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Engagement in Hampton Roads
8-9, 1862

Being Correspondence Pursuant to the Actions of the C.S.S. Virginia (Merrimack) and U.S.S. Monitor,
as well as other vessels which took part

Union Documents
From the Official Records of the Navies

[Note: In these nineteenth century style communications, the addressee appears below the closing salutation and name of the sender.]


NEWPORT NEWS, March 8, 1862.

The Merrimack is being towed down by two steamers past Craney Island toward Sewell's Point, so reported to me from the Cumberland.


Major-General WOOL,


NEWPORT NEWS, March 8, 1862.
The Merrimack is close at hand.


General WOOL.


NEWPORT NEWS, March 8, 1862.

The Merrimack is engaging the Cumberland at close quarters.

Brigadier. General.

General WOOL.


NEWPORT NEWS, March 8, 1862.

The Yorktown [C. S. S. Patrick Henry] is passing with two other steamers.


Major-General WOOL.


NEWPORT NEWS, March 8, 1862.

General Mansfield has gone to visit the pickets. A shot from the Congress just struck the upper wharf.

Assistant Adjutant-General.

General WOOL.


NEWPORT NEWS, March 8, 1862.

The Congress has surrendered, but aground at Signal Point. I expect to see her in flames soon. We had driven off from her the gunboats. We want ammunition for all our guns at once by land.


Major-General WOOL.

[ Telegram.]

NEWPORT NEWS, March 8, 1862.

We want powder by the barrel. We want blankets sent up to-night for the crews of the Cumberland and the Congress. The Merrimack has it all her own way this side of Signal Point and will probably burn the Congress, now aground, with white flag flying, and our sailors swimming ashore. These must come by land to-night.


General WOOL.


NEWPORT NEWS, March 8, 1862.

We have no more ammunition and the Merrimack and Yorktown are off Signal Point. Send us cartridges and shells for 8-inch columbiad and howitzers by land.


Major-General WOOL.


NEWPORT NEWS, March 8, 1862.

The Congress is now burning. The enemy's steamers have hauled off toward Pig Point. Captain Whipple is here, and so is Max Weber, the Twentieth, and the coast guard, and cavalry. We should have another light battery to resist attack by land if they come.


General WOOL.

Report of Major-General Wool, U. S. Army, regarding the attack by the C. S. S. Virginia (Merrimack) upon the U. S. ships in Hampton Reads.

FORT MONROE, VA,. March 8, 1862.

The Merrimack came down from Norfolk to-day, and about 2 o'clock attacked the Cumberland and Congress. She sunk the Cumberland, and the Congress surrendered. The Minnesota is aground and attacked by the Jamestown, Yorktown, and Merrimack. The St. Lawrence just arrived and going to assist. The Minnesota is aground. Probably both will be taken. That is the opinion of Captain Marston and his officers. The Roanoke is under our guns.
It is thought the Merrimack, Jamestown, and Yorktown will pass the fort to-night.


Secretary of War.


FORT MONROE, VA., March 8, 1862--8:30 p.m.

No firing for last two hours. Newport News camp is uninjured. We are towing transports out to sea to keep clear if the Merrimack comes down to the fort. Minnesota and St. Lawrence still aground. The tide will not float them for three hours.


Secretary of War.

The Merrimack has gone back to Craney Island.

J. E. W.

Report of Lieutenant Worden U. S. Navy, of the arrival of the U. S. S. Monitor in Hampton Roads

Hampton Roads, March 8, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report that I arrived at this anchorage at 9 o'clock this evening, and am ordered to proceed immediately to the assistance of the Minnesota, aground near Newport News.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Lieutenant, Commanding.

Secretary of the Navy.


MARCH 8, 1862.

One man [of the] Seventh New York had his leg taken off by a piece of shell and one man of the artillery detachment had bones of his feet crushed by carriage running over it. No other casualty in the fort. All the wounded were removed from the Congress before she was burned. News of the arrival of the Monitor has infused new life into the men.

Assistant Adjutant-General.

Major-General WOOL.


MARCH 9, 1862.

Fifty thousand rations are being put on board the Commerce, and will go up as soon as the coast is clear. From appearances the Monitor is giving the Yorktown and Merrimack more than they want.



Letter from the Assistant Secretary of the Navy to Flag-Officer Goldsborough, U. S. Navy, reporting the condition of affairs in Hampton Roads and urging his immediate return.

Fort Monroe, Va., March 8 [9], 1862----6 p.m.

DEAR COMMODORE: After a four-hours' fight the Monitor has driven the Merrimack away from the Minnesota, which is aground off Newport News, and did not come off at high water to-day, though she was moved and headed downstream. Lieutenant Worden, who commanded the Monitor, and fought her, is injured in both eyes, so as not [to be] able to see. Wise takes him up to Washington, and I think you had better bring back Jeffers to handle the Monitor. She is yet uninjured, and my impression is that the Merrimack is very little hurt, though I can not say. She retired under fair headway. I think it of the utmost importance that you should return at the earliest moment. We do not want any of your tugs; there are enough here.

Yours, truly,

G. V. FOX.

Sounds of North Carolina.]


HEADQUARTERS, Fortress Monroe---6:45 p.m.

(Received March 9, 1862.) The Monitor arrived at 10 p.m. last night and went immediately to the protection of the Minnesota, lying, aground just below Newport News.

At 7 a.m. to-day the Merrimack, accompanied by two wooden steamers and several tugs, stood out toward the Minnesota and opened fire.

The Monitor met them at once and opened her fire, when all the enemy's vessels retired, excepting the Merrimack. These two ironclad vessels fought part of the time touching each other, from 8 a.m. to noon, when the Merrimack retired. Whether she is injured or not it is impossible to say. Lieutenant J. L. Worden, who commanded the Monitor, handled her with great skill, assisted by Chief Engineer Stimers. Lieutenant Worden was injured by the cement from the pilot house being driven into his eyes, but I trust not seriously. The Minnesota kept up a continuous fire and is herself somewhat injured.

She was moved considerably to-day, and will probably be off to-night. The Monitor is uninjured and ready at any moment to repel another attack.

G. V. FOX,
Assistant Secretary.

Secretary Navy.


FORT MONROE, March 9--7 p.m.

Your noble boat has performed with perfect success, and Worden and Stimers have handled her with great skill. She is uninjured.

G. V. FOX,
Assistant Secretary Navy.

New York.


(Received March 9, 1862.)

Consulting with General Wool, I have ordered the frigates out of the roads--the St. Lawrence to the Potomac, Roanoke and Minnesota to New York, the latter being disabled. The Monitor, of course, remains. If there are any of those 11-inch gunboats (I think there are two in Boston), please send them at once to this place. They can keep clear of the Merrimack and be of great assistance.

Nearly all here are of the opinion that the Merrimack is disabled. I was the nearest person to her outside of the Monitor, and I am of the opinion she is not seriously injured. I have sent a steamer for Commodore Goldsborough.

I can not see that anything more can be done by the Navy.

G. V. FOX.

Secretary of the Navy.


Fort Monroe, Va., March 9, 1862.

The Minnesota has been moved about one and one-half her length, but is still aground. She is considerably injured. About 150 of her crew have left her and are now in the fort. She has had 5 killed and 20 wounded. If the Merrimack comes out again, she will probably be destroyed. It is thought exceedingly doubtful whether she can be got off. The Spaulding will go up to try it to-night. The commander of the Monitor is severely injured in the face from the effects of a shot striking the outside of a narrow opening through [which] he was looking. He has gone to Baltimore to-night.




OLD POINT COMFORT, March 9, 1862.

Please look out for Virginia until my return. I may have to stay over to-night, as my presence is indispensable. I think the Merrimack is laid up for a few days, not more, and in that time the harbor will be cleared for the iron combatants. It is a most historical fight--four hours fighting and nobody hurt. Everybody is in good spirits, especially as the Minnesota is off.

G. V. FOX.

Hon. M. BLAIR,

Report of Captain Marston, U. S. Navy, senior officer present.

Hampton Roads, March 9, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to inform you that yesterday at 1 o'clock one of the lookout vessels reported by signal that the enemy was coming out. I immediately ordered the Minnesota to get underway, and as soon as the two tugs appointed to tow this ship came alongside I slipped our cable.

The Merrimack was soon discovered passing out by Sewell's Point, standing up toward Newport News, accompanied by several small gunboats. Every exertion was made by us to get all the speed on the Roanoke that the two tugs were capable of giving her, but in consequence of our bad steerage we did not get ahead as rapidly as we desired to do. The Merrimack went up and immediately attacked the Congress and Cumberland, but particularly the latter ship, which was hid from us by the land. When about 7 or 8 miles from Fortress Monroe the Minnesota grounded. We continued to stand on, and when we came in sight of the Cumberland we saw that she had careened over, apparently full of water. The enemy, who had been joined by two or three steamers from James River, now devoted themselves exclusively to the Congress, but she being aground could bring but few guns to bear on them, and at ten minutes before 4 o'clock we had the mortification of seeing her haul down her flag. I continued to stand on till we found ourselves in 3 fathoms water, and was on the ground astern. Finding that we could go no farther I ordered one of our tugs to tow us round, and as soon as the Roanoke's head was pointed down the bay, and I found she was afloat again, I directed the tugs to go to the assistance of the Minnesota, under the hope that with two others which had accompanied her they would be able to get her off, but up to the time that I now write have not succeeded in doing so.

At 5 o'clock the frigate St. Lawrence, in tow of the Cambridge, passed us, and not long after she also grounded, but by the aid of the Cambridge she was got afloat again, and being unable to render any assistance to the Minnesota, came down the harbor. In passing the batteries at Sewell's Point, both going and returning, the rebels opened their fire on us, which was returned from our pivot guns, but the range was too great for them, while the enemy's shot [fell] far beyond us. One shot went through our foresail, cutting away two of our shrouds, and several shells burst over and near the ship, scattering their fragments on the deck.

Between 7 and 8 o'clock we discovered that the rebels had set fire to the Congress, and she continued to burn till I o'clock, when she blew up. This was a melancholy satisfaction to me, for as she had fallen into the hands of the enemy it was far better to have her destroyed than that she should be employed against us at some future day. It was the impression of some of my officers that the rebels hoisted the French flag, but I could not make it out. At 8 o'clock I heard that the Monitor had arrived, and soon after Lieutenant Commanding Worden came on board and I immediately ordered him to go up to the Minnesota, hoping that she would be able to keep off an attack on the Minnesota till we had got her afloat again. This morning the Merrimack renewed the attack on the Minnesota, but she found, no doubt greatly to her surprise, a new opponent in the Monitor. The contest has been going on during most of the day between these two armored vessels, and most beautifully has the little Monitor sustained herself, showing herself capable of great endurance.

I have not received any official account of the loss of the Congress and Cumberland, but no doubt shall do so, when it will be transmitted to you.

I should do injustice to this military department did I not inform you that every assistance was freely tendered to us, sending five of their tugs to the relief of the Minnesota, and offering all the aid in their power.

I would also beg leave to say that Captain Poor, of the Ordnance Department, kindly volunteered to do duty temporarily on board this ship, and from whom I have received much assistance. I did hope to get this off by this day's mail, but I have been so constantly employed that I fear I shall not do so.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Captain and Senior Officer.

Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D.C.

Abstract log of the U. S. S. Roanoke.

March 8, 1862.--At 1:08 p.m. saw signal 551, which we answered at once and signalized tug Young America to come alongside and take us in tow. At 1:10 saw the Merrimack around Sewell's Point heading for Newport News. Slipped our chain and started up in tow of the tug Dragon. The Minnesota also got underway and steamed toward Newport News. At 1:30 the tug Young America came alongside to assist in towing us to the action. At 2 p.m. the tugboat Dragon cast off from alongside and took a hawser out ahead. Set the spanker and jib. At 2:30, coming in range of Sewell's Point battery, they opened fire, and several shot and shell passed over and fell around this ship. One rifle shot passed through the foresail and cut away a shroud on each side of the fore rigging; put on stops at once. The forward pivot gun was trained on Sewell's Point battery and fired, but fell short. On opening Newport News Point, about 3:30, found the Cumberland sunk, the Minnesota aground, and the rebel steamers Merrimack, Jamestown, and Patrick Henry, together with some three or four small steamers, engaging the Congress and Newport News encampment and fort. At about 4 o'clock the Congress struck her colors and hoisted the white flag. The rebels then opened tire at the Minnesota at long range with rifled guns. Several of their shot fell around this ship. All and every exertion was made to get this ship up to the scene of action and to the relief of the Congress and Minnesota, but could not. We worked her head down the river, and sent the tugs to the relief of the Minnesota. From 4 to 6 p.m. calm, ship underway, endeavoring to get up to Newport News; the water shoal. The Minnesota aground and our ship dragging into the mud and could not get into action. With the assistance of the two tugs and sail got the ship about, then up [top]gallant masts, made sail, and sent the tugboats to assist the Minnesota. At this time the Cumberland had been sunk and the Congress her colors struck. Passing Sewell's Point the battery kept a brisk fire on us each way, the shot passing over and some fragments striking us in hull and rigging. When out of range we came to anchor. At the time of getting up the topgallant masts the leading block bolt in the deck drew, striking John McDonough in the head, who, it is feared, is mortally wounded. Finding it impossible to get up the river, and keeping up a brisk fire with our pivot gun on Sewell's Point, stood down river and anchored between Fortress Monroe and Sewell's Point, leaving the Minnesota and St. Lawrence up the river in action with the Merrimack. From 6 to 8 p.m. At 6 the steamers Atlantic and America towed us to our anchorage in the roads. The Minnesota remains aground and the Congress enveloped in flames. At 6:06 the whole rebel fleet withdrew under Sewell's Point and anchored. The steamer Monitor arrived.

March 9.--At 12:30 a.m. the ship Congress blew up. At daylight called all hands. Saw the Merrimack, Jamestown, and Patrick Henry off Sewell's Point. At 7:45 the Merrimack drifted slowly down, and at 8:06 opened fire on the Monitor, she returning it. At 8:30 the Merrimack opened a brisk fire on the Minnesota and Monitor, both returning the fire. The engagement lasted three and one-half hours. At meridian, the Merrimack, with the other rebel boats, returned toward Norfolk.

March 10.--At 2:06 a.m. the U. S. gunboat Whitehall caught fire and was destroyed. Sent the Young America to her assistance. At 3:20 a boat arrived with dispatches to, and returned with dispatches from, Captain Marston. The Whitehall is a total wreck. At 4:45 the U. S. S[team] frigate Minnesota got afloat and came down to her anchorage in the roads. At 8 the U. S. S. Monitor came down. Called all hands and cheered her.

March 11.--At 10 a.m. saw black smoke and steam of three steamers over Sewell's Point.

March 12.--Got underway for New York.

Report of Captain Van Brunt, U. S. Navy, commanding U. S. S. Minnesota.

U. S. S. MINNESOTA, March 10, 1862.

SIR: On Saturday, the 8th instant, at 12:45 p.m., three small steamers, in appearance, were discovered rounding Sewell's Point, and as soon as they came into full broadside view I was convinced that one was the iron-plated steam battery Merrimack, from the large size of her smoke pipe. They were heading for Newport News, and I, in obedience to a signal from the senior officer present, Captain J. Marston, immediately called all hands, slipped my cables, and got underway for that point to engage her. While rapidly passing Sewell's Point the rebels there opened fire upon us from a rifle battery, one shot from which going through and crippling my mainmast. I returned the fire with my broadside guns and forecastle pivot. We ran without further difficulty within about 1 miles of Newport News, and there, unfortunately, grounded. The tide was running ebb, and although in the channel, there was not sufficient water for this ship, which draws 23 feet. I knew that the bottom was soft and lumpy, and endeavored to force the ship over, but found it impossible so to do.

At this time it was reported to me that the Merrimack had passed the frigate Congress and run into the sloop of war Cumberland, and in fifteen minutes after I saw the latter going down by the head. The Merrimack then hauled off, taking a position, and about 2:30 p.m. engaged the Congress, throwing shot and shell into her with terrific effect, while the shot from the Congress glanced from her iron-plated sloping sides without doing any apparent damage. At 3:30 p.m. the Congress was compelled to haul down her colors. Of the extent of her loss and injury you will be informed from the official report.

At 4 p.m. the Merrimack, Jamestown, and Patrick Henry bore down upon my vessel. Very fortunately the iron battery drew too much water to come within a mile of us. She took a position on my starboard bow, but did not fire with accuracy, and only one shot passed through the ship's bow.

The other two steamers took their position on my port bow and stern, and their fire did most damage in killing and wounding men, inasmuch as they fired with rifled guns; but with the heavy gun that I could bring to bear upon them I drove them off, one of them apparently in a crippled condition. I fired upon the Merrimack with my pivot 10-inch gun without apparent effect, and at 7 p.m. she too hauled off and all three vessels steamed toward Norfolk. The tremendous firing of my broadside guns had crowded me farther upon the mud bank, into which the ship seemed to have made for herself a cradle. From 10 p.m., when the tide commenced to run flood until 4 a.m., I had all hands at work with steam tugs and hawsers, endeavoring to haul the ship off of the bank, but without avail, and, as the tide had then fallen considerably, I suspended further operations at that time. At 2 a.m. the iron battery Monitor, Commander [Lieutenant] John L. Worden, which had arrived the previous evening at Hampton Roads, came alongside and reported for duty, and then all on board felt that we had a friend that would stand by us in our hour of trial.

At 6 a.m. the enemy again appeared, coming down from Craney Island, and I beat to quarters, but they ran past my ship and were heading for Fortress Monroe, and the retreat was beaten to allow my men to get something to eat. The Merrimack ran down near to the Rip Raps, and then turned into the channel through which I had come. Again all hands were called to quarters, and when she approached within a mile of us I opened upon her with my stern guns and made signal to the Monitor to attack the enemy. She immediately ran down in my wake, right within the range of the Merrimack, completely covering my ship as far as was possible with her dimensions, and, much to my astonishment, laid herself right alongside of the Merrimack, and the contrast was that of a pigmy to a giant. Gun after gun was fired by the Monitor, which was returned with whole broadsides from the rebels with no more effect, apparently, than so many pebblestones thrown by a child. After a while they commenced maneuvering, and we could see the little battery point her bow for the rebels, with the intention, as I thought, of sending a shot through her bow porthole; then she would shoot by her and rake her through her stern. In the meantime the rebel was pouring broadside after broadside, but almost all her shot flew over the little submerged propeller, and when they struck the bomb proof tower the shot glanced off without producing any effect, clearly establishing the fact that wooden vessels can not contend successfully with ironclad ones; for never before was anything like it dreamed of by the greatest enthusiast in maritime warfare. The Merrimack, finding that she could make nothing of the Monitor, turned her attention once more to me. In the morning she had put a 11-inch shot under my counter near the water line, and now, on her second approach, I opened upon her with all my broadside guns and 10-inch pivot a broadside which would have blown out of water any timber-built ship in the world. She returned my fire with her rifled bow gun with a shell, which passed through the chief engineer's stateroom, through the engineer's mess room, amidships, and burst in the boatswain's room, tearing four rooms all into one in its passage, exploding two charges of powder, which set the ship on fire, but it was promptly extinguished by a party headed by my first lieutenant; her second went through the boiler of the tugboat Dragon, exploding it and causing some consternation on board my ship for the moment, until the matter was explained. This time I had concentrated upon her an incessant fire from my gun deck, spar deck, and forecastle pivot guns, and was informed by my marine officer, who was stationed on the poop, that at least fifty solid shot struck her on her slanting side without producing any apparent effect. By the time she had fired her third shell the little Monitor had come down upon her, placing herself between us, and compelled her to change her position, in doing which she grounded, and again I poured into her all the guns which could be brought to bear upon her. As so n as she got off she stood down the bay, the little battery chasing her with all speed, when suddenly the Merrimack turned around and ran full speed into her antagonist. For a moment I was anxious, but instantly I saw a shot plunge into the iron roof of the Merrimack, which surely must have damaged her. For some time after the rebels concentrated their whole battery upon the tower and pilot house of the Monitor, and soon after the latter stood down for Fortress Monroe, and we thought it probable she had exhausted her supply of ammunition or sustained some injury. Soon after the Merrimack and the two other steamers headed for my ship, and I then felt to the fullest extent my condition. I was hard and immovably aground, and they could take position under my stern and rake me. I had expended most of my solid shot and my ship was badly crippled and my officers and men were worn out with fatigue, but even then, in this extreme dilemma, I determined never to give up the ship to the rebels, and, after consulting my officers, I ordered every preparation to be made to destroy the ship after all hope was gone to save her. On ascending the poop deck I observed that the enemy's vessels had changed their course and were heading for Craney Island. Then I determined to lighten the ship by throwing overboard my 8-inch guns, hoisting out provisions, starting water, etc. At 2 p.m. I proceeded to make another attempt to save the ship, by the use of a number of powerful tugs and the steamer S. R. Spaulding, kindly sent to my assistance by Captain Tallmadge, quartermaster at Fortress Monroe, and succeeded in dragging her half a mile distant, and then she again was immovable, the fide having fallen. At 2 a.m. this morning I succeeded in getting the ship once more afloat, and am now at anchor opposite Fortress Monroe.

It gives me great pleasure to say that during the whole of these trying scenes the officers and men conducted themselves with great courage and coolness.

I have the honor to be, your very obedient servant,

Captain, U. S. Navy, Commanding Frigate Minnesota.

Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D.C.


U. S. S. MINNESOTA, March 10, 1862.

Report of killed and wounded on and alongside the Minnesota in the action of the 8th and 9th March, 1862.

Killed on board the Minnesota:

1. Alexander Winslow, captain maintop.
2. Henry Smith, coxswain.
3. Dennis Harrington, captain mizzen top; killed alongside on board the Whitehall.
4 & 5. Names not ascertained yet.
6. Robert Waugh, died on board Minnesota.

Wounded on board the Minnesota:

1. John Gunn, quartermaster, seriously.
2. Henry Leeland, quarter gunner, seriously.
3. Charles Dunlap, ordinary seaman, mortally.
4. Samuel W. Hiller, ordinary seaman, slightly.
5. Christopher Sewell, coal heaver, mortally.
6. Charles Thompson, seaman, seriously, perhaps mortally.
7. Joseph Augustus (musician), seriously.
8. Samuel W. Thomas (musician), slightly.
9. Seth Bennett (musician), slightly.
10. Atwell Kean, landsman, slightly.
11. John Clark, seaman, seriously.
12. Patrick Joyce, ordinary seaman, slightly.
13. Julius Bartlett, quartermaster, slightly.
14. Joyce Moore (colored), landsman, slightly.
15. Eli Parris (colored), landsman, slightly.
16. Ansel Richchurch, seaman, slightly.

Wounded alongside on board the Dragon:
18.]Names not ascertained; now on board the hospital ship Ben Morgan.
20. Name not known (engineer), slightly.

Total killed, 6.
Total wounded, 20.

Very respectfully,

Fleet Surgeon.

Captain G. J. VAN BRUNT,
Commanding U. S. S. Minnesota.

U. S. S. MINNESOTA, March 10, 1862.

SIR: I most respectfully offer the following report of ammunition expended on the 8th and 9th instant:

78 solid shot, X-inch.
169 solid shot, IX-inch.
67 shell, X-inch, 15-second.
180 shell, IX-inch, 15-second.
35 shell VIII-inch, 15-second.
5,567 pounds of service powder.

I also wish to report to you that the battery requires refitting, being rendered useless. Locks and sights broken, breechings, side tackles, and block straps cut, blocks destroyed, rammers and sponges broken, etc. With what I have on hand I can equip ten 9-inch guns besides the pivot. The clevises on the pivot slide have carried away; the slide itself requires overhauling. Seven of the guns of the spar-deck battery were thrown overboard; also one 12-pounder boat howitzer. A part of the small arms is missing; also belts, cartridge boxes, scabbards, and frogs. All the articles put on board the Whitehall for safe-keeping are destroyed, she having been burned last night.

Very respectfully, etc.


G. J. VAN BRUNT, Esq.,

Hampton Roads, Virginia, March 10, 1862.

SIR: In obedience to your order of this date, I submit the following report of damages sustained by this ship in hull, spars, and boats in the engagements on the 8th and 9th instant with the rebel steamers Merrimack, Yorktown, and one other, name unknown:

Port side: Received one shell on afterquarter at the water line, which cut through the planking; one shell between main and mizzen rigging below air-port line, which passed through chief engineer's stateroom, crossing and tearing up the deck over the cockpit and striking the clamp and knee in carpenter's stateroom, where it exploded, carrying away the beam clamp and knee and completely demolishing the bulkheads, setting fire to the same and ripping up the deck. One shell passed through hammock netting abaft of main rigging, striking spar deck on starboard side, cutting through four planks, then, ricochetting, carrying away truck and axle of gun carriage and wounding waterways. Two shell passed through No. 8 port, carrying away planking timbers and deck clamps and splintering several beams and castings. One shell passed through forward part of No. 6 port, carrying away planking timber and upper sill; one shell under forerigging, which cut away sheet cable, penetrating planking timber, and splintering deck clamps. One shell on starboard side carried away hammock nettings and gangway boards. There are several wounds on port side, received from fragments of exploded shell. One shell passed through the mainmast 14 feet above deck, cutting away one third of the mast and bursting some of the iron bands. One shell struck spar deck in starboard gangway, cutting it up. One passed from port to starboard gangway forward of mainmast, where it exploded, wounding two boats.

Very respectfully,

Carpenter, U. S. Navy

Captain G. J. VAN BRUNT,
Commanding U. S. S. Minnesota.

Off Hampton Roads, March 10, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report that the boatswain department was injured to the extent enumerated below while engaged with the rebels on the 8th and 9th instant:

Port jib guy shot away; lower boom topping-lift falls; port fore-topsail brace; port mizzen-topsail brace; port main lift; port main topgallant clewline; main topmast pendant; forward guys of lower booms; shrouds in port main rigging; fore-topmast staysail halyards.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Captain G. J. VAN BRUNT,
Commanding U. S. S. Minnesota.

Abstract log of the U. S. S. Minnesota,

March 8, 1862.--At 12:45 p.m. saw three steamers off Sewell's Point standing toward Newport News. One of these was supposed to be the Merrimack from the size of her smokestack. We immediately slipped chain and steamed toward Newport News. At 1:30 went to quarters. At 2, when off Sewell's Point, the enemy opened fire upon us, which was immediately responded to by this ship. One of the enemy's shot took effect upon the mainmast. We immediately fished and secured it with a hawser over the masthead. At 3 the ship grounded, Newport News bearing north [west?], distance about 1 mile. We backed ! h e engine and set the mizzen topsail to back the ship off, but all to no effect, as it was high water when the ship grounded. The three rebel steamers, when we had grounded near Newport News, had attacked the U. S. ships Cumberland and Congress. At 3:30 the Cumberland went down with her colors flying. At 4 the Congress struck her colors and hoisted a white flag. At 4 the rebel steamers and the Minnesota commenced action, the rebels firing directly upon our bows. We immediately transported four of the broadside guns to the bow ports and commenced firing. Two of the rebel steamers commenced moving to the southward. We then opened fire upon them with our port battery. We received several shot and shell in our port side, killing two men and wounding several. From 6 until 8 p.m.: Action still continued with our port battery and bow guns, the rebels doing considerable damage to the Minnesota. At 7 the rebel steamers hauled off. From 8 until midnight: All preparations were made to get the ship afloat, such as getting out stream anchor, getting tugboats alongside, and making them fast; transported two of the 9-inch broadside guns to the stern ports of the Cabin.

March 9.--At 2 a.m. the ship floated, but soon grounded. The U. S. battery Monitor, Commander [Lieutenant] J. L. Worden, arrived and reported for orders. From 4 until 8 a.m.: Received 100 9-inch solid shot from Fortress Monroe. Still at work trying to get the ship off. At 4:15 found it impossible to get the ship afloat, as the tide had fallen too much. At 6 a.m. the three rebel steamers made their appearance directly astern, and commenced firing upon us, which was promptly responded to. Signalized the Monitor to engage the enemy. She commenced an attack upon them, when they steamed toward Sewell's Point, followed by the Monitor. From 8 a.m. to meridian: U. S. S. Monitor still engaged with Merrimack, at close quarters most of the time. At 11 the Merrimack again returned and took her position upon our port side, distant about 1 mile, and commenced to fire upon our ship, striking her in several places, doing much damage. The enemy's fire promptly returned by this ship; one man killed and several wounded. The Merrimack retired. We commenced lightening the ship by starting water, hoisting out provisions, and heaving overboard seven of 8-inch guns. At 1 p.m. the Merrimack steamed toward Norfolk. At 2 commenced to get the ship afloat and succeeded in swinging the ship's bows down the channel. All hands were called to stand by their bags and hammocks in case we failed to get the ship off at high water, having expended nearly all of our solid shot, 9-inch. At 4:30 we succeeded in getting the ship afloat and proceeded one-fourth of a mile, when we again grounded.

March 10.--At 2 a.m. succeeded in getting the ship afloat. Came to anchor in Hampton Roads.

Report of Fleet Surgeon Wood, U. S. Navy, transmitting list of killed and wounded.

U. S. S. MINNESOTA, March 12, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to enclose a list of the killed and wounded, so far as any returns have been made, in the action of this squadron with that of the enemy on the 8th and 9th instant. Most of the wounded of the Congress and Cumberland are now in the army hospitals at Newport News and Fortress Monroe.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Fleet Surgeon.

Commanding North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.


List of killed and wounded during the engagement on the 8th and 9th of March, 1862, off Newport News.

On board U. S. S. Minnesota:

1. Alexander Winslow, captain main top, killed.
2. Henry Smith, coxswain, killed.
3. Dennis Harrington, captain mizzen top, killed.
4. John Gunn, quartermaster, wounded.
5. Henry Leeland, quarter gunner, wounded.
6. Charles Dunlap, ordinary seaman, wounded.
7. Samuel W. Hiller, ordinary seaman, wounded.
8. Christopher Sewell, coal heaver, wounded.
9. Charles Thompson, seaman, wounded.
10. Joseph Augustus, musician, contused.
11. Samuel W. Thomas, musician, wounded.
12. Seth Bennett, musician, wounded.
13. Atwell Kean, landsman, wounded.
14. John Clark, seaman, injured in groin.
15. Patrick Joyce, ordinary seaman, contused.
16. Julius Bartlett, quartermaster, wounded.
17. Ansel Richchurch, seaman, contused.
18. Joyce Moore (colored), landsman, wounded.
19. Eli Parris (colored), landsman, wounded.

Total killed, 3; wounded, 16.

On board U. S. S. Whitehall:

1. Andrew Nesbitt, third assistant engineer, killed.
2. Charles O'Connor, boy, killed.
3. Robert Waugh, seaman, killed.

On board U. S. S. Dragon:

1. [Jos.] McDonald, wounded.
2. [Charles J.] Frieze, wounded.
3. Name not ascertained, wounded.

On board U. S. S. Roanoke:

1. John McDonough, third, ordinary seaman, contused wound of scalp; serious. From U. S. S. Congress.
2. Robert Rogers, ordinary seaman, lacerated wound of wrist; not serious. From U. S. S. Cumberland.
3. T. Wade, first-class boy, lacerated wound of neck; not serious.
4. John Stockwell, boatswain's mate, dislocation of shoulder joint.

U. S. S. Cumberland:

1. ---- Butt, burns and contusion of head and face.
2. John Grady, seaman, lacerated wound of right arm; burns of face.
3. John McGunn, ordinary seaman, slight wound right side of head.
4. John Bates, ordinary seaman, slight wound of left arm and buttock.
5. John Devine, carpenter's mate, wound of left heel.
6. Edward Cobb, signal quartermaster, slight wound of head, throat, and abdomen.
7. John Gardner, quartermaster, contusion of right thigh.
8. Alex. McFadden, marine, lacerated wound of left arm.
9. John B. Cavanaugh, ordinary seaman, slight wound over left temple.
10. John Burt, ordinary seaman, contusion and abrasion of back.
11. Jos. Russell, quartermaster, exhaustion; a long time in the water.
12. Tochlin Livingston, ordinary seaman, intermittent.
13. James Benson, ordinary seaman, rheumatism.
14. Mr. Stuyvesant, master, slight penetrating wound, left forearm, from splinter.


Killed / Wounded.

Minnesota 3 / 16
Whitehall 3 / 16
Dragon 0 / 3
Roanoke 0 / 1
Congress 0 / 1
Cumberland* 6 / 37

* Two now on Roanoke; 14 in Fort Monroe and Camp Butler.

Very respectfully,

Fleet Surgeon

Additional report of Fleet Surgeon Wood, U. S. Navy, transmitting list of killed and wounded.

Hampton Roads, March 14, 1862.

SIR: Since the report I had the honor to forward yesterday, I have received from Baltimore the enclosed list of wounded on board the U. S. S[hip] Congress.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Fleet Surgeon.

Flag-Officer LOUIS M. GOLDSBOROUGH, U. S. Navy,
Commanding North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.


List of wounded on board the U. S. frigate Congress during the action on the 8th instant.

1. Surgeon Edward Shippen, concussion.
2. Mr. Rhodes, pilot, badly burned; died on the 9th.
3. Spencer Fish, ordinary seaman, slight wound in foot.
4. William Bangs, ordinary seaman, slight wound on face, hand, and legs.
5. Charles Trask, seaman, slight burn on the head and face.
6. Harry Millenbrock, ordinary seaman, slight burn on the arm.
7. Emanuel Denoviel, ordinary seaman, badly burned on face and hands.
8. Charles Wilson, seaman, slightly wounded.
9. William McAbee, boatswain's mate, badly burned on face and hands.
10. John Cahill, seaman, slightly wounded.
11. John Barritts, fractured thigh.
12. Edwin G. Pepper, wound on the scalp, face, and hands.
13. Jesse H. Jewell, marine, badly burned on face, hands, arms, and legs.
14. Lawrence Furlong, slightly burned on face.
15. John McClusky, amputation of thigh.
16. Alexander Johnson, severe wound, right thigh.
17. John Brislin, amputation of thigh; died since.
18. George Webster, seaman, amputation of arm; severe wound of thorax.
19. Thomas Serrin, amputation of arm and serious injuries of body.
20. Charles Tyman, corporal, amputation at hip joint; died since.
21. ---- [Leroy], ship's quartermaster, amputation of leg: died since.
22. James Goulding, Ninety-ninth [New York] Regiment, wound of scalp.
23. Patrick Clancey, marine, wound on neck and leg.
24. Stephen Brinnen, Ninety-ninth [New York] Regiment, fractured leg.
25. Samuel Furlong, Ninety-ninth [New York] Regiment, burns on head and face.
26. William Chapman, seaman, burns on face and hands.
27. James McFaden, seaman, bruised on right shoulder and left leg.
28. George S. Dean, ordinary seaman, wound on face, shoulder, and leg.
29. David Ferguson, seaman, thigh bruised.
30. Thomas Cannon, ordinary seaman, punctured wound.

Report of Captain Purviance, U. S. Navy, commanding U. S. frigate St. Lawrence.

Hampton Roads, March 10, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report the arrival of this ship on the 6th instant in Lynn Haven Bay, from New York.

After anchoring, a strong gale from the northwest commenced, and continued through the night and the following day.

On Saturday the wind abated, and while waiting for wind and tide, the U. S. gunboat Cambridge came alongside and reported that the rebel steam ram Merrimack and some side-wheel steamers were engaging the frigates Congress and Cumberland at Newport News.

At half past 2 we got underway in tow of the Cambridge and, when abreast of the rebel battery at Sewell's Point, the battery opened fire, one of the shells exploding under the forefoot of the St. Lawrence, doing, however, no material injury. The fire was returned, and, it is believed, with some effect.

The Cumberland had at this time gone down, having been run into by the Merrimack, and the Congress had surrendered, after a terrible slaughter of her men and when rendered perfectly powerless by the fire of the rebels.

The Minnesota was aground and was engaging the enemy, whose force consisted of the rebel steam ram and four or five side-wheel gunboats, When near the Minnesota the St. Lawrence grounded, and at that time opened fire, but her shot did no execution; the armor of the Merrimack proved invulnerable to her comparatively feeble projectiles.

Taking advantage of these portentous circumstances, the Merrimack directed her attention to firing several projectiles of formidable dimensions, one of which, an 80-pound shell, penetrated the starboard quarter about 4 inches above the water line, passed through the pantry of the wardroom and into the stateroom of the assistant surgeon on the port side, completely demolishing the bulkhead, and there struck against a strong iron bar, which secured the bull's-eye of the port; it returned into the wardroom expended. It fortunately did not explode, and no person was injured. The damages done by this one shot proved the power of the projectiles which she employed, and readily explained the quick destruction of our wooden and antiquated frigates.

Our position at this time was one of some anxiety. Being aground, the tug Young America came alongside and got us off, after which a powerful broadside from the spar and gun decks of the St. Lawrence, then distant about half a mile, thrown into the Merrimack induced her to withdraw, whether from necessity or discretion, is not known; certainly no serious damage could have been done. After which we proceeded slowly to the anchorage, which we reached about -- p.m.

The Merrimack again appeared the following morning and sustained for several hours the consolidated fire of the Minnesota and Monitor, abandoning the conflict finally, but apparently unharmed.

The Minnesota remained aground during the night, was supplied with additional ammunition, and in the morning, when attacked by the Merrimack, fought her guns with an energy, skill, and indomitable perseverance worthy of the noble and patriotic cause which she was defending. Unable to move, she was forced to present her feeble broadside to the enemy, who remained at long range, offering the smallest surface to her antagonist. The Monitor, whose performances more than equaled the highest expectations, contributed most powerfully to the withdrawal of the Merrimack, and her earlier arrival would have prevented the unfortunate loss of our two defenseless frigates.

All the officers and crew zealously and efficiently performed their duties.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Secretary Navy.

Abstract log of the U. S. ship St. Lawrence.

March 8, 1862.--[Hampton Roads.] At 1 p.m. steamers Roanoke and Minnesota stood toward Newport News. At 1:30 discovered rebel steamers. At 2, U. S. S. Cambridge came out and informed us that the rebels were engaging the U. S. ships Cumberland and Congress. At 2:30 called "All hands up anchor;" hove up anchor, were taken in tow by the U. S. gunboat Cambridge, and stood up the roads for the enemy. At 5:25, passing Sewell's Point, the, batteries opened on us, firing some half dozen shot and shell, one of which passed over our quarter-deck forward the mizzenmast and just clearing the bows of the whaleboat, another carrying away the starboard quarter block on foreyard. This fire was instantly returned by the long 32-pounders of the first division and the 8-inch 63 cwt. shell guns of the second division port, some falling short and others apparently landing in or near the battery. Proceeded up the channel; discovered the Minnesota to be aground; about 5:50 took the bottom ourselves; found under our starboard quarter 3 fathoms water. The tug Young America came to our assistance; making her fast to our starboard quarter she, after a time, succeeded in backing us off. Finding it impossible to go any higher up, and the tide being rapid ebb, we stood toward Fortress Monroe. Discovered the rebel ram Merrimack, with two steamers, in chase of us, no doubt intending to head us off, if possible, abreast of Sewell's Point. About 7 the Merrimack opened fire on us at about 900 yards' distance, which was immediately answered with our starboard broadside, and there was rapid firing for a few minutes, when the order was given to cease firing. One shell (rifled) from the Merrimack passed through our starboard quarter about 8 inches above water line, carrying one frame entirely, and the half of another, away, entering the wardroom pantry, smashing barrels and boxes of stores, cutting through bulkhead, combing, and striking the deck a little abaft the magazine hatch, it ricochetted, passing into the after room on the port side, bending the iron brace, and, breaking the handle of the air-port plunger, it rebounded on wardroom deck without exploding. The tug Young America having fouled her propeller, cut our towline. Sent a hawser to the Cambridge, which towed us down abreast of the fort; came to with starboard anchor, having fired at Sewell's Point and the Merrimack some 80 odd shot and shell. From meridian to 8 p.m.: Fired 12 shot and shell in return to Sewell's Point, all falling short, distance being too great. Fired 74 shot and shell in return to Merrimack's fire; being dark, could not see the effect.

March 9.--At 12:30 a.m. magazine of the U. S. frigate Congress exploded. Crew at general quarters during the night. At day-light discovered rebel steamers off Sewell's Point getting up steam. From 8 to meridian: Rebel vessels engaging the Minnesota and battery Monitor at the mouth of James River. From meridian to 3 p.m.: Vessels still fighting at mouth of James River. At 2:10 p.m. rebel steamers hauled off; many of the tugs in the river go up to assist the Minnesota in getting off. The Brandywine was towed out of the harbor and up the bay by one of the gunboats. All the schooners, etc., dropped down near the light-boat. From 3 to 6: All batteries ready for action.

Report of Commander Radford U. S. Navy, transmitting reports relative to the ranking of the U. S. ship Cumberland.

FORTRESS MONROE, VA., March 10, 1862.

SIR: It is my painful duty to have to report the loss of the U. S. ship Cumberland, under my command, on the 8th instant at Newport News, Va.

I was on board the U. S. steam frigate Roanoke, by order of the honorable Secretary of the Navy, as member of a court of enquiry, when the Merrimack came out from Norfolk. I immediately procured a horse and proceeded with all dispatch to Newport News, where I arrived only in time to see the Cumberland sunk by being run into by the rebel ironclad steamer Merrimack. Though I could not reach the Cumberland before the action was over, I have the satisfaction of reporting that she was fought as long as her guns were above water. Everyone on board must have done their duty nobly.

I send with this the report of Lieutenant George U. Morris of the action, he being, in my absence, the commanding officer, and also the surgeon's report of the wounded saved. The loss was very large in killed, wounded, and drowned, though the number can not be ascertained. Enough is known, however, to make the loss over one hundred. I send also a list of the men known to have been saved, but have no accurate means of giving the names of those lost or killed, as no officer or man brought anything on shore save what he stood in, consequently I have no muster roll of the crew.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Secretary of the Navy.

[Enclosures. ]

NEWPORT NEWS, March 9, 1862.

SIR: Yesterday morning at 9 a.m. discovered two steamers at anchor off' Smithfield Point, on the left hand or western side of the river, distant about 12 miles. At 12 m. discovered three vessels under steam, standing down the Elizabeth River toward Sewell's Point. Beat to quarters, double breeched the guns on the main deck, and cleared ship for action.

At 1 p.m. the enemy hove in sight, gradually nearing us; the ironclad steamer Merrimack, accompanied by two steam gunboats, passed ahead of the frigate Congress and stood down toward us. We opened fire on her; she stood on and struck us under the starboard fore channels; she delivered her fire at the same time; the destruction was great. We returned the fire with solid shot with alacrity.

At 3:30 [p.m.] the water had gained upon us, notwithstanding the pumps were kept actively employed, to a degree that the forward magazine being drowned we had to take powder from the after magazine for the X-inch gun. At 3:35[p.m.] the water had risen to the main hatchway, and the ship canted to port, and we delivered a parting fire, each man trying to save himself by jumping overboard. Timely notice was given, and all the wounded who could walk were ordered out of the cockpit, but those of the wounded who had been carried into the sick bay and on the berth deck were so mangled that it was impossible to save them. It is impossible for me to individualize; alike officers and men all behaved in the most gallant manner. Lieutenant Selfridge and Master Stuyvesant were in command of the gun deck divisions, and they did all that noble and gallant officers could do. Acting Masters Randall and Kennison, who had charge each of a pivot gun, showed the most perfect coolness and did all they could to save our noble ship, but I am sorry to say without avail. Among the last to leave the ship was Surgeon Martin and Assistant Surgeon Kershner, who did all they could for the wounded, promptly and faithfully. The warrant and steerage officers could not have been more prompt and active than they were at their different stations. The loss we sustained I can not yet inform you, but it has been very great. Chaplain Lenhart is missing. Master's Mate John Harrington was killed. I should judge that we have lost upward of one hundred men. I can only say in conclusion that all did their duty and we sunk with the American flag at the peak.

I am, sir, very respectfully, etc., your obedient servant,

Lieutenant and Executive Officer.

Commanding U. S. Ship Cumberland.

List of the officers sated from the U. S. ship Cumberland.

William Radford, commander.
George U. Morris, lieutenant.
Thomas O. Selfridge, lieutenant.
M. S. Stuyvesant, master.
William P. Randall, acting master.
William W. Kennison, acting master.
Charles Heywood, lieutenant marines.
Lewis Smith, pilot.
Charles Martin, surgeon.
Edward Kershner, assistant surgeon.
Edward B. Bell, boatswain.
Eugene Mack gunner.
William M. Laighton, carpenter.
David Bruce, sail maker.
Henry Wyman, master's mate.
E. V. Tyson, master's mate.
Charles O'Neil, master's mate.
Hugh Nott, paymaster's clerk.
Drowned, John L. Lenhart, chaplain; killed, John M. Harrington, master's mate.

Officers and men when action commenced 376
Officers and men when action was over 255
Killed and drowned 121

This is a large number, and I am in hopes more men will be found.


Report of Lieutenant Morris, U. S. Navy, commending for gallantry Lieutenant Heywood. U. S. Marine Corps.

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 12, 1862.

SIR: Owing to the hurried manner in which my official report to Captain Radford was made, I omitted to mention to you the gallant conduct of Lieutenant Charles Heywood, U. S. Marine Corps, whose bravery upon the occasion of the fight with the Merrimack won my highest applause. May I respectfully ask that this be appended to my former report.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Lieutenant, U. S. Navy.

Secretary of the Navy.

Report of Acting Master Kennison, U. S. Navy, regarding his service on board the U. S. ship Cumberland.

Boston, March 18, 1862.

SIR: I most respectfully solicit a commission as lieutenant in the Regular Navy of the United States.

During the terrible action of the 9th [8th], off Newport News, the forward 10-inch pivot gun of the Cumberland, as all around say, even the rebels, that the gun was well worked and handled, and there was no sign of flinching; even at the instant of collision a shot was fired which the rebels themselves say did great execution on board of the Merrimack. After she had struck us, I did not stop to look at her, but superintended the loading, to give her a few more of the same sort. Even after the deck was burst up with a shell, near the abeam pivot hole, ] worked the forward hole until the order was given to take to the boats. At this time the port forecastle deck was under water, and with a last shot at the enemy I left my quarters to look out for a chance to save myself. I had got between the fore and main rigging when the ship went down, whence I was taken by a tug. That day I had three escapes--from shot and shell, from drowning, and from steam. It has been my constant aim since I have been in the service to get ahead, and think that the reports will show that the captain and officers of the Cumberland and Congress will certify that I performed all my duties in a proper manner. I was formerly a shipmaster, as certificates and recommendations now at the Department will show.

I think that my services on that day entitle me to a commission as lieutenant in the Regular Navy.

Praying that you may grant my request, I have the honor to remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Acting Master, U. S. Ship Cumberland.

Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D.C.

Report of Lieutenant Pendergrast, U. S. Navy, executive officer of the U. S. ship Congress.

FORTRESS MONROE, VA., March 9, 1862.

SIR: Owing to the death of my late commanding officer, Lieutenant Joseph B. Smith, it is my painful duty to make a report to you of the part which the U. S. frigate Congress took in the efforts of our vessels at Newport News to repel the attack of the rebel flotilla on the 8th instant. The following are the minutes, as near as I can inform you:

At 12:40 p.m. the Merrimack with three small gunboats were seen steaming down from Norfolk. When they had turned into the James River channel and had approached near enough to discover their characters we cleared the ship for action.

At 2:10 p.m. the Merrimack opened with her bow gun with grape, passing us on the starboard side at a distance of about 300 yards, receiving our broadside and giving one in return. After passing the Congress she ran into and sunk the U. S. sloop of war Cumberland. The smaller vessels then attacked us, killing and wounding many of our crew. Seeing the fate of the Cumberland, we set the jib and topsails, and, with the assistance of the tugboat Zouave, ran the vessel ashore.

At 3:30 the Merrimack took a position astern of us, at a distance of about 150 yards, and raked us fore and aft with shells, while one of the smaller steamers kept up a fire on our starboard quarter.

In the meantime, the Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson [Jamestown], rebel steamers, approached us from up the James River, firing with precision and doing us great damage.

Our two stern guns were now our only means of defense. These were soon disabled, one being dismounted and the other having its muzzle knocked away. The men were swept away from them with great rapidity and slaughter by the terrible fire of the enemy.

At about 4:30 I learned of the death of Lieutenant Smith, which happened about ten minutes previous. Seeing that our men were being killed without the prospect of any relief from the Minnesota, which vessel had run ashore in attempting to get up to us from Hampton Roads, not being able to bring a single gun to bear upon the enemy, and the ship being on fire in several places, upon consultation with Commander William Smith, we deemed it proper to haul down our colors without any further loss of life on our part.

We were soon boarded by an officer from the Merrimack, who said that he would take charge of the ship. He left shortly afterwards, and a small tug came alongside, whose captain demanded that we should surrender and get out of the ship, as he intended to burn her immediately.

A sharp fire with muskets and artillery was maintained from our troops ashore upon the tug, having the effect of driving her off. The Merrimack again opened on us, although we had a white flag at the peak to show that we were out of action. After having fired several shells into us she left us and engaged the Minnesota and the shore batteries. We took the opportunity to man the boats and send the wounded ashore. We then ourselves left, the ship being on fire near the after magazine and in the sick bay. In fact, the ship was on fire from the commencement to the end of the action, three times in the sick bay and wardroom and twice in the main hold, produced by hot shot thrown from the Merrimack.

I lament to record the deaths of the following officers: Lieutenant Joseph B. Smith, Acting Master Thomas Moore, and Pilot William Rhodes, wounded (since dead).

In conclusion, I beg leave to say that the officers, seamen, and marines performed their whole duty well and courageously.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Lieutenant, U. S. Navy.

Senior Officer.

I will send in a list of the casualties and missing as soon as I can ascertain them.

Very respectfully,

Lieutenant, U. S. Navy.

Report of Lieutenant Pendergrast, U. S. Navy, regarding the casualties on the U. S. ship Congress.

PHILADELPHIA, PA., March 19, 1862.

SIR: I very respectfully submit the following report as to the casualties which occurred on board the U. S. frigate Congress in the action of the 8th instant at Newport News:

Total number of officers and men on board 434
Total number of officers and men on board accounted for 298
Total number of killed, wounded, and missing 136
Total number of wounded taken on shore 26
Total number killed and missing 110
Total number of wounded (since dead) 10
Total number of killed, missing, and died on shore 120

I regret exceedingly to record the death of Master's Mate Peter J. Hargous. He was a good, brave, and promising young officer, and is universally regretted.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Lieutenant, U. S. Navy.

Secretary of the Navy, Washington City, D. C.

Report of Lieutenant Greene, U. S. Navy, executive officer of the U. S. S. monitor.

Hampton Roads, March 12, 1862.

SIR: Lieutenant Commanding John L. Worden having been disabled in the action of the 9th instant between this vessel and the rebel ironclad frigate Merrimack, I submit to you the following report:

We arrived at Hampton Roads at 9 p.m. on the 8th instant and immediately received orders from Captain Marston to proceed to Newport News and protect the Minnesota from the attack of the Merrimack. Acting Master Howard came on board and volunteered to act. as pilot.

We left Hampton Roads at 10 p.m. and reached the Minnesota at 11:30 p.m.

The Minnesota being aground, Captain Worden sent me on board of her to enquire if we could render her any assistance, and to state to Captain Van Brunt that we should do all in our power to protect her from the attack of the Merrimack.

I then returned to this vessel and at 1 a.m. on the 9th instant anchored near the Minnesota. At 4 a.m., supposing the Minnesota to be afloat and coming down upon us, got underway and stood out of the channel. Finding that we were mistaken, anchored at 5:30 a.m. At 8 a.m. perceived the Merrimack underway and standing toward the Minnesota. Hove up the anchor and went to quarters. At 8:45 a.m. we opened fire upon the Merrimack and continued the action until 11:30 a.m., when Captain Worden was injured in the eyes by the explosion of a shell from the Merrimack, upon the outside of the eyehole in the pilot house, exactly opposite his eye. Captain Worden then sent for me and told me to take charge of the vessel. We continued the action until 12:15 p.m., when the Merrimack retreated to Sewell's Point and we went to the Minnesota and remained by her until she was afloat,.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Lieutenant and Ordnance Officer.

Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.

Report of Acting Assistant Surgeon Logue, U. S. Navy, of casualties on board the U. S. S. Monitor.

Off Fortress Monroe, March 11, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report to your Department the casualties that occurred on board this vessel during her action with the rebel steamer Merrimac on Sunday, March 9.

The engagement began at 8:30 a.m., but no injury was experienced by either officers or crew until 10 o'clock.

At this-hour precisely Mr. Stodder, first master (volunteer), was disabled by concussion of the brain while engaged on the lookout in the turret. Insensibility remained for about ten minutes, but the reaction following did not run high enough to require active treatment. Mr. Stodder's injury resulted from his knee coming in contact with the turret at the instant a heavy shot from the Merrimack struck it. About ten minutes later Peter Trescott, seaman, was sent down from the turret, suffering also from concussion of the brain. This injury did not result in total insensibility, but the circulation remaining depressed for some time, I administered stimulants in small quantities, watching carefully for reaction, and when it was established controlled it successfully by cold effusion to the head.

These were the only accidents that occurred until a percussion shell near the close of the action exploded against the lookout chink of the pilot house and resulted in severe injury of the eyes of Lieutenant Commanding John L. Worden, who was stationed there during the engagement. I made an examination and succeeded in removing from the corneal conjunctiva some minute scales of iron and a small quantity of paint forced by the exploding shell from the bars composing the pilot house. He also, in a small degree, suffered from concussion, but this complication required no treatment. My further treatment of Captain Worden consisted entirely in making cold applications to his eyes, which was continued until, at the solicitations of his friends, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox, and Lieutenant Wise, U. S. Navy, he was removed from the Monitor to be taken to Washington. I am pleased to report that on the morning following the engagement the injured parties remaining on board were ready and reported for duty.

I have the honor to be, respectfully, your obedient servant,

Acting Assistant Surgeon, Steamer Monitor.

Secretary, U. S. Navy.

Letter from Chief Engineer Stimers, U. S. Navy, to Captain John Ericsson, giving an account of the engagement.

Hampton Roads, March 9, 1862.

MY DEAR SIR: After a stormy passage, which proved us to be the finest seaboat I was ever in, we fought the Merrimack for more than three hours this forenoon and sent her back to Norfolk in a sinking condition. Ironclad against ironclad. We maneuvered about the bay here and went at each other with mutual fierceness. I consider that both ships were well fought. We were struck 22 times--pilot house twice, turret 9 times, side armor 8 times, deck 3 times. The only vulnerable point was the pilot house. One of your great logs (9 by 12 inches thick) is broken in two. The shot struck just outside of where the captain had his eye, and it has disabled him by destroying his left eye and temporarily blinding the other. The log is not quite in two, but is broken and pressed inward 1 inches. She tried to run us down and sink us, as she did the Cumberland yesterday, but she got the worst of it. Her bow passed over our deck and our sharp upper edged side cut through the light iron shoe upon her stem and well into her oak. She will not try that again. She gave us a tremendous thump, but did not injure us in the least. We are just able to find the point of contact.

The turret is a splendid structure. I do not think much of the shield, but the pendulums are fine things, though I can not tell you how they would stand the shot, as they were not hit.

You are very correct in your estimate of the effect of shot upon the man on the inside of the turret when it was struck near him. Three men were knocked down, of whom I was one; the other two had to be carried below, but I was not disabled at all and the others recovered before the battle was over. Captain Worden stationed himself at the pilot house, Greene fired the guns, and I turned the turret until the cap-rain was disabled and was relieved by Greene, when I managed the turret myself, Master Stodder having been one of the two stunned men.

Captain Ericsson, I congratulate you upon your great success. Thousands have this day blessed you. I have heard whole crews cheer you. Every man feels that you have saved this place to the nation by furnishing us with the means to whip an ironclad frigate that was, until our arrival, having it all her own way with our most powerful vessels.

I am, with much esteem, very truly, yours,

Chief Engineer.

No. 95 Franklin Street. New York.

Letter from Chief Engineer Stimers, U. S. Navy, to Commodore Smith, U. S. Navy, regarding the performance of the U.S.S. Monitor,


Hampton Roads, Virginia, March 17, 1862.

MY DEAR SIR: The fact that our movements have been so fully described by so many people and so fully published, has caused me to rather neglect writing many letters which I ought to have attended to, chief among which are the letters I ought to have written you.

Permit me first, my dear sir, to offer my respectful sympathy for the loss of your gallant son. I knew him well; indeed, we were shipmates in that same Merrimack when she sailed under an honorable flag--by people who did not steal her.

We were not well prepared by calking for a gale of wind when we left New York, and moreover, our wind pipes were not high enough. I wanted (Captain Ericsson to make them the same height as the turret, which would have prevented nearly all our difficulties, but he thought them high enough to prevent any mischief, and urged the inconvenience of stowing higher ones when we should go into battle. Aside from these defects, I consider the form and strength of the vessel equal to any weather I ever saw at sea. It flows right across her deck; it looks to the sailor as if his ship was altogether under water, and it is only the man who has studied the philosophical laws which govern floatation and stability who feels exactly comfortable in her during a gale of wind.

The effects of the shot upon the vessel prove to my mind in the strongest language that laminated rolled plates are far superior to solid forged plates. The pilot house had a beam 9 inches thick by 12 inches depth, struck at an angle of 30 degrees by a 68-pound rifle shell, and it indented into the iron three-fourths of an inch and broke the beam. The turret, which is not so thick by 1 inch, was struck by a similar missile and at an equally short range (about 30 yards) at an angle of 90 degrees indented into the iron 2 inches (three times as far) but did not crackle the iron in the least. The indentation is carried all the way through in every case (7 in number) in which the turret was struck, and it is for this reason that laminated plates are better than the solid.

We fired nothing but solid cast-iron shot, and whenever we were directly abeam of her [Merrimack] and hit her, our shot went right through her. Her sides are at an angle of 45 degrees.

I am now building around the pilot house solid oak, covered with 3 inches thickness of wrought iron in three thicknesses, at an angle of 30 degrees with the horizon. Over this we will smear tallow which has been blackened by mixing it with black lead. I consider that when this is done it will thoroughly protect the eye of the observer within, as it will carry the shot too high to permit the fragments to come through.

The bronze shot which Captain Dahlgren has sent us I consider as superior for our purposes to the wrought iron. Their weight (160 pounds) is in their favor, so far as the gun is concerned, over even the cast-iron shot, and from the experiments tried they will have a superior penetration. Our difficulty, however, was not the want of penetration of the cast-iron shot--as we now have proof--but their want of homogeneity caused them to go almost anywhere except where the gun was aimed. The bronze cast over the hollow 9-inch shot must give a very well-balanced missile, and remove the only difficulty we had.

With much esteem and respect, I am, very truly, yours,


Commodore JOSEPH SMITH, U. S. Navy,
Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks,
Navy Department, Washington, D.C.

Letter from Flag-Officer Goldsborough, U. S Navy, to Lieutenant Jeffers, U. S. Navy, requesting information regarding ammunition expended by the U. S. S. Monitor.

Hampton Roads, March 16, 1862.

SIR: The Chief of Bureau of Ordnance, etc., has expressed a desire to know, if possible, how much ammunition was expended by the Monitor in her late engagement, especially solid shot, and whether this shot was wrought or cast. He also wishes to be made aware of the results of an examination of your bores and vents, and to have taken an impression of the interior orifice of the latter.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Lieutenant Commanding WM. N. JEFFERS,
U. S. Cased Battery Monitor.

Report of Lieutenant Jeffers, U. S. Navy, regarding ammunition expended by the U. S. S. Monitor.

Hampton Roads, March 16, 1862.

SIR: In answer to your enquiry I have to report that the Monitor expended forty-one solid cast-iron shot in her engagement with the Merrimack, equally divided between guns 27 and 28.

On inspection of the bore with a mirror no trace of injury can be observed. I have no means of examining the vent by taking an impression.

Unless absolutely necessary I shall fire no more cast-iron solid shot, as ] am satisfied that shells are not more liable to fracture. The bronze coated shot I shall reserve for especial occasion. The wrought-iron shot I shall send on shore to remove the temptation to fire them. I am satisfied that the Merrimack can not seriously injure the Monitor, but an explosion of a gun might destroy the turret.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Lieutenant, Commanding.

Flag-Officer L. M. GOLDSBOROUGH,
Commanding North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

Report of Commander Glisson, U. S. Navy, commanding U. S. S. Mount Vernon.

Baltimore, Md., March 17, 1862.

SIR: This vessel having been one of those in Hampton Roads on the 8th and 9th instant, I feel it to be my duty to report to you the part we took on those days.

We were lying alongside of the coal ship Phelps coaling ship, with no fires lighted and part of the machinery apart and on shore for repairs, when at 12:40 we observed the rebel vessels coming down the Elizabeth River. I immediately hoisted signal No. 551 to the squadron, and at 12:55, the signal not being answered, fired a shotted gun in the direction of the enemy to call attention to it. At 1:10 the U. S. frigate Roanoke made signal No. 1218. Being unable to move for the reasons above stated, I dispatched an officer to ask the senior officer to allow me a tug to tow me into action. This he could not do, as he needed the services of the only tugs at his disposal for the U. S. frigates Minnesota and Roanoke. I then sent to the United States quartermaster to endeavor to borrow an army tug for the purpose, but without success.

I used every exertion in getting my machinery off from shore, and succeeded by daylight on the 9th in having the vessel under steam and ready for any service that might be needed. I was subsequently ordered to tow the U. S. storeship Brandywine to Baltimore and finish my repairs.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Commander, U. S. Navy.

Flag. Officer L. M. GOLDSBOROUGH,
Commanding the Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

Abstract log of the U. S. S. Mount Vernon.

March 8, 1862.--At 12:40 p.m. observed the rebel ironclad steam frigate Merrimack coming down the Elizabeth River. At 12:55 fired a shot in the direction of the enemy to attract the attention of the senior officer to our signal. Sent a boat to ask the senior officer to send us a tug to tow us into action, our machinery being apart and our fires not lighted. At 1:30 observed the U. S. frigates Minnesota and Roanoke weigh their anchors and proceed in the direction of the enemy in tow of steam tugs. Our boat returned with the information that the senior officer needed the only tugs at his disposal for the above-named frigates. Endeavored to procure a tug from the quartermaster's department without success. At 2:15 the action commenced between the U. S. frigates Congress and Cumberland and the battery at Newport News and the enemy, consisting of the Merrimack, Yorktown, Jamestown, and three smaller steamers. At 2:20 shots were exchanged between the rebel batteries at Sewell's Point and the flagship Minnesota. At 3:20 the Minnesota grounded near Newport News. Heavy firing going on between all the vessels engaged. At 4 observed the U. S. frigate Congress hoist the white flag. At 4:30 sent on shore for the machinery of this vessel that was being repaired there. At 5:15 the U. S. frigate St. Lawrence passed up on her way to the scene of action in tow of U. S. S. Cambridge, the action still continuing. At 6:30 the U. S. frigate Roanoke returned to the roads, also the U. S. S. Mystic. The combatants ceased firing for the night. At 8:30 discovered the U. S. frigate Congress to be on fire. The U. S. S[hip] St. Lawrence returned to the roads. At 11:30 the U. S. ironclad battery Monitor passed up toward Newport News. Received the machinery from the shore, none of it being repaired. Lighted the tires and commenced getting up steam.


March 9.--At 12:30 a.m. observed the U. S. S[hip] Congress blow up. At daylight observed three rebel steamers coming down toward Sewell's Point. Backed the vessel down toward the senior officer's ship and fired a shot at the enemy, which fell short. From 8 to meridian: Heavy firing going on between the Minnesota and ironclad battery Monitor on one side and the Merrimack, Yorktown, and Jamestown on the other. At 11:30 proceeded alongside the U.S. storeship Brandywine to take her in tow. At meridian proceeded with the Brandywine in tow. At sunset New Point Comfort distant 6 miles.

Report of Acting Master Watson, U. S. Navy, regarding casualties on the U. S. S. Dragon.

Hampton Roads, March 9, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report, while endeavoring to tow U. S. S. Minnesota off the bottom during the engagement with the Merrimack, received a shell into the boiler, where it exploded, doing serious damage to the boiler and completely destroying the inside of the vessel, with the exception of the magazine; seriously wounding Benjamin S. Hungerford, quartermaster; Charles J. Frieze, seaman; [Jos.] McDonald, fireman, who were put on board hospital ship.

Also lost all small arms and equipments, spy and marine glasses, cabin furniture; all my accounts, appointment, clothing, sword, revolver, and watch; together with sixty days' rations, which were passed aboard steamer Whitehall by order from Minnesota.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Acting Master, Commanding.

Flag-Officer, Comdg. North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

Report of Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Goodwin, U. S. Navy, commanding U. S. bark Amanda.

Baltimore, March 10, 1862.

SIR: Your order of 9th instant to proceed to this port was received 12, noon, of that day, and considering it as a peremptory order admitting of no delay, I immediately hove up my anchor and, in tow of steamer Currituck, proceeded on, although a part of my ship's company and three officers were doing duty in other parts of the harbor.

My executive officer, Mr. R. J. Hoffner, and Master's Mate Campbell, with 11 men, I sent on board steam tug America to assist first the Roanoke and then the Minnesota (the captain of that tug having refused to lend his aid), and presume he was [they were] at the latter ship when I left.

On the evening of the 8th, hearing the Monitor was expected up the bay, I pulled down to the inner lightship, boarded her, and came up in her, pointing out to Captain Worden the position of your ship. When lie again got underway, no pilot was to be found willing to take her up to Newport News, or rather to the Minnesota, and I detailed from the Amanda Acting Master Samuel Howard as a pilot for the Monitor, having perfect confidence in his knowledge of the channel, and without doubt he was on board the battery when I left. Hoping I have not been in error in any of the above actions,

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,

Acting Volunteer Lieutenant, U. S. Navy.

[Captain JOHN MARSTON, U. S. Navy.]

[From the Evening Press, March 18, 1862.]

Among the many incidents in connection with the naval engagement in Hampton Roads, there are two which have come to our notice, which we deem worthy of praise:

When the Minnesota was found to be aground and in great danger of being destroyed by the Merrimack, all the available tugs at Fortress Monroe were sent to her assistance. At that time the America, a very powerful steam propeller in the employ of the Government, was lying off the fort, and was ordered to go to the relief of the Minnesota. The captain refused to get up steam on the vessel. The provost-marshal immediately called for volunteers to man the America. The bark Amanda (six guns), which had arrived a few days before from the blockade off Wilmington, was lying at anchor near by, and the first lieutenant and Master's Mate George C. Campbell, of Willimantic, Conn., with 13 men, volunteered immediately, went on board the propeller, ordered the engineer to get up steam, put the captain and crew under a guard of marines and sent them to the fort, hove up anchor, and went up and stayed by the Minnesota until she was brought to her anchorage abreast of the Rip Raps on Monday morning.

The America was under fire during the whole engagement, and the officers without sleep or rest from Saturday until Monday, but no lives were lost, though the vessel was a good deal damaged.

The other fact is this: After the Monitor arrived twenty Baltimore pilots refused to take her to Newport News, excusing themselves because they did not know the channel when, at any other time, they would have jumped at the chance. At this juncture Acting Master Howard, of the Amanda (before mentioned), offered his services, piloted the Monitor to where the Minnesota was aground, and was the means of saving that vessel as well as Newport News probably. We hope such deeds may not be overlooked.


Respectfully referred to Flag-Officer Goldsborough.

[G. V. FOX.]

NAVY DEPARTMENT, March 21, 1862.

Abstract log of the U.S. storeship Brandywine.

March 8, 1862.--At 1:30 p.m. the Merrimack hove in sight steering for Newport News, in company with three tugs. At 2, frigates Roanoke and Minnesota got underway and proceeded to Newport News. At 2:25 firing commenced from the Rip Raps, Sewell's Point, Craney Island, and Newport News. 4: firing still continues from five rebel boats and replied to by the Congress, Cumberland, and others on our side. At 5:30 p.m. the frigate St. Lawrence came in, towed by the steamer Cambridge, and proceeded to Newport News to assist our force there. All hands to quarters. At 8:30 p.m. saw fires at Newport News, found to be the frigate Congress burning; continued to burn during the watch. At 11:30 the Ericsson battery [Monitor] came in and proceeded to Newport News.

March 9.--Commences with calm, clear weather. The Congress still burning. At 12: 30 a.m. the Congress blew up. At 5:30, day breaking, saw the Minnesota in position. At 6 saw three rebel steamers approaching. Called all hands to quarters. United States gunboat hoisted signal, got underway, and fired a gun. At 8 firing commenced from the Merrimack, which was returned by the Ericsson battery [Monitor] and Minnesota. It has been reported here that the U.S. ship Cumberland has been sunk by the Merrimack. All hands still at quarters. From 8 to 12 m. the Merrimack and Ericsson battery [Monitor] engaged each other. The engagement continued until 12 m., when the U. S. S. Mount Vernon came alongside with orders to take this ship to Baltimore.

Abstract log of the U. S. bark Braziliera.

March 8, 1862.--At 1 p.m. a rebel steam battery made her appear-ante off Sewell's Point, accompanied by several smaller gunboats. Minnesota, Roanoke, and gunboats got underway and proceeded to the scene of action. At 4 saw that the frigate Congress had the white flag flying at her peak and main topgallant masthead. Wind at the time moderate from the W. to W. S. W. Very heavy firing from our forces against the rebel ships and batteries. At 6 the Roanoke returned in tow of small tugs. The St. Lawrence arrived at 5 and proceeded immediately to the support of the Minnesota, but returned to Fortress Monroe at 6:45. At 8 firing on both sides slacking. At 7:50 fire broke out on board the frigate Congress. She blew up between 12 and 1 a.m. Two gunboats and Ericsson's battery [Monitor] arrived.

March 9.--At 7 a.m. rebel gunboats opened fire on the Minnesota and Ericsson battery [Monitor]. Forenoon, heavy firing between our naval force and the rebel batteries and gunboats. At noon the rebel forces hauled off and stood up toward Norfolk. Storeship Brandywine left in tow of U.S. S. Mount Vernon at 1 p.m. In the evening the steam frigate Minnesota returned to her anchorage.

March 10.--At 2 a.m. saw flames break out from the steamer Whitehall. She burned to the water and sank. At 8 the Ericsson battery [Monitor] returned from Newport News and anchored under Fortress Monroe. At 2 p.m. tug George Washington came alongside with an acting master and 38 men from the U.S. frigate Roanoke to remove us lower down. At 5:40 came to anchor, light on point S. W. by W., distant 1 mile.

Abstract log of the U. S. S. Cambridge.

March 8, 1862.--At 1:30 p.m. saw the rebel steamer Merrimack and two others coming out from behind Sewell's Point. The Minnesota and Roanoke got underway to engage them. We immediately steamed out to the frigate St. Lawrence, at anchor 5 miles below, and took her in tow and started for Hampton Roads. From 4 to 6 p.m.: St. Lawrence in tow. When abreast of Sewell's Point, the enemy's batteries opened fire upon us, which was returned by both ships; found the Cumberland sunk, the Congress ashore on Newport News Point and her crew leaving her, and the Minnesota aground, the Merrimack engaging her. The St. Lawrence taking the ground, cast off from her and prepared to tow her again. Several shot struck the ship without doing much injury. From 6 to 8: Endeavoring to get the St. Lawrence in tow, stove in our quarter-rail by collision. Observed the Congress on fire. The enemy's vessels withdrawing toward Sewell's Point. At 8 p.m. got the St. Lawrence in tow again and stood down for the fort, the enemy's vessels firing upon us. At 8:30 dropped the St. Lawrence and anchored. Reported on board the Roanoke. At 11 the bombproof battery Monitor got underway and stood up for the Minnesota.

March 9.--At 12:40 a.m. the Congress blew up. Two small steamers came down from the Minnesota and communicated with the Roanoke. At 8:50 the Merrimack and Monitor came to close quarters, apparently trying to board. Heavy firing between them. At 9:30 received orders to go to Beaufort, N. C., from the senior officer and immediately got our anchor and stood down the bay.

Abstract log of the U. S. S. Mystic.

March 8, 1862.--At 1:10 p.m. observed rebel steamer Merrimack and two other of the enemy's steamers coming down Elizabeth River toward Newport News. At 1:20 flagship fired gun. At 1:25 U. S. S[team] frigate Minnesota got underway and proceeded toward Newport News. At 1:40 flagship Roanoke got underway. At 2 action commenced at Newport News between U. S. frigates Cumberland and Congress and the enemy. At 3 got underway in tow of steamer Kingston and followed flagship. At 3:20 observed three steamers coming down James River. At 3:50 the U. S. frigate Congress struck her flag. At 4 flagship turned back. At 4:10 turned round and followed flagship, it being apparent that in our disabled state we could not be of any assistance. At 5:20 U. S. frigate St. Lawrence passed us, going up in tow of the U. S. S. Cambridge. At 5:50 engaged Sewell's Point battery with our starboard guns. At 8:20 discovered a large fire bearing W. S. W., supposed it to be the Congress set on fire by the rebels. At 9 U. S. S. Monitor arrived and proceeded toward Newport News.

March 9.--At 8 a.m. saw rebel steamers off Sewell's Point. At 8:30 action commenced off Newport News between rebel steamers Merrimack and two others and U. S. steamers Minnesota and Monitor. At 9:30, in answer to signal from flagship, dropped farther down, more out of the way of the guns of the fort. At noon action still going o at Newport News. At 12:30 p.m. action ceased between the United States steamers and the rebels, the latter running away up Elizabeth River.

Letter from Lieutenant Greene, U. S. Navy, to J. H. Murray, esq., regarding Quartermaster Williams, of the U. S. S. Monitor.

Hampton Roads, March 25, 1862.

DEAR SIR: I received to-day your communication of the 21st instant. Peter Williams, quartermaster, is the name of the man who steered this vessel during her engagement with the Merrimack on the 9th instant. Please give my regards to Mr. Fox, and my apology to him for not speaking to him about his kind note of the 11th instant.

Yours, truly,

Lieutenant, U. S. Navy.

J. H. MURRAY, Esq.,
Navy Department, Washington, D.C.

Report of Major-General Wool, U. S. Army, commanding Department of Virginia.

Fort Monroe, Va., March 9, 1862.

GENERAL: Two hours after I sent my hurried dispatch to the Secretary of War last evening the Monitor arrived and saved the Minnesota and St. Lawrence, which were both aground when she arrived.

The Merrimack, supported by the Yorktown and Jamestown, commenced an attack on the Minnesota(still aground) early this morning, and after a contest of five hours was driven off in a sinking condition by the Monitor,. aided by the Minnesota, and towed by the Jamestown and Yorktown toward :Norfolk, for the purpose, no doubt, of getting her, if possible, in the dry dock for repairs.

It is reported that Magruder is approaching Newport News with a large force of infantry. I have reenforced that post with three regiments, a light battery of six pieces, and a company of dragoons. The command consists altogether of over or about 8,000 men. My command consists altogether of 10,000 effective men.

The Cumberland was sunk, and we lost more than one half of her crew. The Congress surrendered, but the crew was released and the officers taken as prisoners. The Minnesota has got off, but it is reported she is in a sinking condition.

It is to be hoped that I will be largely reenforced, including two additional light batteries. The Monitor is far superior to the Merrimack The first has only two guns, while the Merrimack has eight.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major-General GEORGE B. McCLELLAN,
Commanding the Army, Washington, D.C.

(Similar report to Secretary of War.)

Report of Brigadier-General Mansfield, U. S. Army, commanding brigade.

Newport News, March 10, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report that in the forenoon of Saturday, the 8th instant, the commanders of the Congress and Cumberland, at anchor in the stream, notified me that the ironclad Merrimack steamer of the enemy was approaching from Norfolk to attack them, and I immediately telegraphed you to that effect. At about 2 o'clock p.m. she approached very near these vessels slowly, engaged first the Congress, and passed on to the Cumberland and ran into her, and all within a mile of our batteries. I immediately ordered Lieutenant-Colonel G. Nauman, chief of artillery, to open our batteries of four columbiads and one 42-pounder James gun to fire on her. It was done with alacrity, and kept up continuously with spirit as long as she was in range, and although our shot often struck her, they made no impression on her at all. I also ordered three of our 8-inch siege howitzers from the land batteries hauled by hand and brought to bear on her from the bank of the river, and two of Howard's light battery rifled guns, but no visible serious damage to her from our guns was done, such was the strength of her mail.

As soon as the Cumberland was sunk, three steamers, supposed to be the Yorktown, Jamestown, and a tug came down the River from Day's Point under full head of steam. Our guns were then turned on them, but they kept at a distance and moved rapidly past, and received but little damage from us.

During the sinking of the Cumberland, the Congress slipped her cable and hoisted sail and ran ashore just above Signal Point, where many of her men escaped to the shore, and was then followed by the Merrimack, and after two raking shots she hauled down her flag and hoisted a white flag and ceased action. The enemy then sent two steamers with Confederate flags flying and made fast on either side of her, with a view to haul her off or burn her. As soon as I saw this I ordered Colonel Brown, of the Twentieth Indiana Regiment, then close at hand, to send two rifle companies (A and K) to the beach. The two rifled guns, under Captain Howard, and a rifled Dahlgren howitzer, manned by Master Stuyvesant and fourteen sailors of the Cumberland, went into action from a raking position on the beach, covered by sand banks and trees, against these steamers.

We here had them at about 800 yards to advantage, and immediately they let go their hold on the Congress and moved out of range with much loss. They endeavored to approach her again with a steamer and rowboat, but were beaten off with loss, till finally the Merrimack, finding her prize retaken, approached and fired three shots into her and set her on fire. The remaining men escaped from the Congress over the bows of the ship to the shore, assisted by our boats, and the wounded were removed by dark.

Thus closed the tragedy of the day. The enemy retired at dark toward the opposite shore, and the Congress illuminated the heavens and varied the scene by the firing of her own guns and the flight of her balls through the air till about 2 o'clock in the morning, when her magazine exploded and a column of burning matter appeared high in the air, to be followed by the stillness of death. Through the whole day our troops were under arms, and the officers and men engaged at the batteries and as riflemen on the beach performed their duty well, and the enemy were beaten off wherever we could penetrate them. All was done that it was possible to do under the circumstances to save these ships from the enemy. Some officers and men from the Cumberland, as they escaped to the shore, came forward and volunteered their services at our guns and afforded aid. Toward the close of the day the enemy must have experienced considerable loss. There were none killed of my command, and but one man, private of the Seventh New York Volunteers, severely wounded by a shell from the Merrimack, resulting in the loss of his leg.

The loss on the part of our Navy must have been great by the bursting of shells and the drowning by the sinking of the Cumberland, although our best efforts were made to save them. Our ships were perfectly helpless against the Merrimack, as their broadsides produced no material effect on her.

All of which is respectfully submitted.

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Major-General JOHN E. WOOL,
Commanding Department of Virginia.

Report of Colonel Wardrop, Ninty-ninth New York Infantry.

Camp Hamilton, Va., March 20, 1862.

SIR: I have this morning received the official report of Captain William J. McIntire, commanding Company D, of this regiment, who has been doing duty on board of the U. S. frigate Congress from January 13 until March 8, when they were attacked by the rebel ironclad gunboat Merrimack, or Virginia, and forced to surrender, after the ship was ashore and helpless. Captain McIntire reports 9 killed, 10 wounded, 7 missing.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonel, Commanding Ninty-ninth Regiment, N. Y. V.

Post Adjutant, Camp Hamilton.

Report of Captain McIntire, Ninety-ninth New York Infantry (Union Coast Guard).

FORTRESS MONROE, VA., March 18, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report to you that with my company I was on board the U. S. frigate Congress in the fight with the ironclad floating battery Merrimack, or Virginia, on the 8th instant, off Newport News, Va. As you are aware, my company was detailed on the 13th of January last to make up the crew of the Congress, having that day paid off and discharged over 300 men; we remained on board practicing at the big guns until the 8th instant, at which time there were with me George L. Elder, second lieutenant, and 87 enlisted men of my company; of the shifts officers and men there were two hundred and seventy odd. About 1:30 p.m., on the 8th day of March, 1862, the Merrimack opened fire upon us with her two bow guns, and as she passed up the James River gave a broadside from four guns, to which we replied with our starboard battery and stern guns, as long as they would reach. The Merrimack after going up the river, just beyond our range, turned toward the sloop of war Cumberland, lying some 800 yards above us; after firing many raking shots into her (the C[umberland]) she (the M[errimack]) ran into the C[umberland]; then drawing off a short distance the M[errimack] renewed fire, and ran again into the C[umberland], when the latter commenced sinking rapidly, and very soon fell over on her beam ends; during this time the Merrimack was occasionally sending a shot into us, and engaging the shore battery, L Company, Fourth U. S. Artillery, which was actively firing upon her. Only our stern guns could be brought to bear on the M[errimack], and those endangering the C[umberland], we ceased firing; but before the Cumberland sank, the rebel steamers Jamestown, Yorktown, and a tug, which came in sight at the beginning of the action, had reached an effective position and were rapidly firing upon us, to which we gave an almost constant answer with our starboard guns. When the Merrimack was approaching the Cumberland, finding our ship would not swing to her cable, we let it slip, set sail, and ran her aground. The Merrimack, having sunk the Cumberland, was placed in a raking position toward us, about 100 yards from our stern, when she commenced a rapid and most destructive fire with shot and shell upon us, breaking the muzzle of one and dismounting the other of our stern guns; it was only then our commander, Captain William Smith, ordered our flag to be lowered. The rebel steamers continuing to fire upon us, we hoisted a white flag to the peak, when in a few minutes the rebel tug Beaufort came along side; an officer boarded us, ordered the men ashore; said he would take officers and burn the ship, and seemed unwilling to wait for the wounded to be taken out; but, thank God, our troops on shore kept up such a galling fire upon his vessels that he was forced to leave our decks and move his tug off in haste; when she left our side a short distance, notwithstanding our white flag, the Merrimack opened on us again with shot and shell, one shell bursting on our gun deck, killing five or seven, it is said, but so many dead were lying around that it was impossible to tell which number was correct. About the time the rebel officers left our deck many of the men jumped overboard into the river, and some twenty-odd upon the Beaufort. The latter were the only prisoners taken. The ship's boats being lowered, we commenced active operations to get the wounded and men on shore, and our exertions were not lessened by a knowledge among the officers that the fire was increasing immediately over the powder magazine (and then we could only hope to delay the first progress by covering the hatches, which was done), yet it was in the dusk of the evening when the officers left, the wounded and all the men having been sent on shore. During the whole of this terrible engagement my men behaved with admirable bravery and coolness, and though the ship was on fire several times in different places during the action, and the dead and wounded were falling everywhere, yet all orders were promptly obeyed, and everyone kept at his post. Among such general good behavior it would seem difficult in justice to the rest to especially notice any one of my company as most eminently active and useful, and yet the concurrent testimony of the ship's officers and my own observation was that Second Lieutenant George L. Elder and Private John Reel displayed the coolest courage and greatest activity in fighting the ship, helping the wounded, and deserve to be particularly mentioned in this report. Previous to the approach of the Merrimack within rifle musket shot of us, Lieutenant Elder and myself were engaged in seeing that our men were at their posts, helping the wounded to the cockpit, passing water to extinguish the fire, and pulling on ropes to work the ship, whichever was most necessary. On the Merrimack nearing us, we carried muskets to the poop deck and fired at her portholes. Being ordered from here on account of sharpshooters firing from the M[errimack], we descended to the captain's cabin, and while firing from there a shot passed through the cabin, killing our sailing master, Mr. Moore, on the quarter-deck, and the splinters it made knocked a marine down and myself, wounded him very badly on the face and head, and throwing Lieutenant Elder against the bulkhead. I escaped with but a light scratch on my wrist and a bruise on my breast. On reaching the shore, Lieutenant Elder and myself started to find our wounded men, whom we saw in the hospitals of the different regiments in Camp Butler, receiving every attention from the surgeons of the Army. During that night Corporal Charles Tyman, who was badly wounded in the hip, died under the surgeon's knife; the next day at noon we buried him and Lieutenant Joseph B. Smith and Quartermaster Leroy, of the U. S. Navy, with the honors of war, in the camp burial ground, all receiving their death wounds on the frigate Congress. The bodies of all killed, excepting those in this action, were probably burned that night in the ship, as her magazine exploded shortly after midnight. The next morning, finding the Monitor was fully a match for the Merrimack and was keeping her engaged 2 miles from us, I manned two boats with 20 of my own men and made a three hours' search and found nothing worthy of note. It now becomes my painful duty to add a list of the killed, missing and wounded of my company.

All of which is respectfully submitted.

Yours, obediently,

Captain Company D, Ninety-ninth Regiment New York Volunteers.

Colonel D. W. WARDROP,
Union Coast Guard, 99th Regt., New York State Vols.,
Camp Hamilton, Va.

Letter from the Secretary of the Navy to Flag-Officer Goldsborough, U. S. Navy, transmitting letter of thanks from the Department to Lieutenant Worden, U. S. Navy.

NAVY DEPARTMENT, March 21, 1862.

SIR: I herewith enclose a copy of a letter of thanks addressed by the Department on the 15th instant to Lieutenant Commanding John L. Worden, which you will cause to be read to the officers and crew of the Monitor.

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,


Flag-Officer L. M. GOLDSBOROUGH,
Comdg. North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, Hampton Roads.


NAVY DEPARTMENT, March 15, 1862.

SIR: The naval action which took place on the 10th [9th] instant between the Monitor and the Merrimack at Hampton Roads, when your vessel with two guns engaged a powerful armored steamer of at least eight guns, and after a four hours' conflict repelled her formidable antagonist, has excited general admiration and received the applause of the whole country.

The President directs me, while earnestly and deeply sympathizing with you in the injuries which you have sustained, but which it is believed are but temporary, to thank you and your command for the heroism you have displayed and the great service you have rendered.

The action of the 10th [9th], and the performance, power, and capabilities of the Monitor, must effect a radical change in naval warfare.

Flag-Officer Goldsborough, in your absence, will be furnished by the Department with a copy of this letter of thanks, and instructed to cause it to be read to the officers and crew of the Monitor.

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,


Lieutenant JOHN L. WORDEN, U. S. Navy,
Commanding U. S. S. Monitor, Washington, D.C.

A resolution expressive of the thanks of Congress to Lieutenant J. L. Worden, of the U. S. Navy, and to the officers and men under his command in the Monitor.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the thanks of Congress and of the American people are due and are hereby tendered to Lieutenant J. L. Worden, of the United States Navy, and to the officers and men of the ironclad gunboat Monitor, under his command, for the skill and gallantry exhibited by them in the late remarkable battle between the Monitor and the rebel ironclad steamer Merrimack.

SEC. 2. Be it further resolved, That the President of the United States be requested to cause this resolution to be communicated to Lieutenant Worden, and through him to the officers and men under his command.

Approved, July 11, 1862.

Joint resolution tendering the thanks of Congress to Commander John L. Worden, of the U. S. Navy.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That in pursuance of the recommendation of the President of the United States, and to enable him to advance Commander John L. Worden one grade, in pursuance of the ninth section of the act of Congress of sixteenth July, eighteen hundred and sixty-two, that the thanks of 'Congress be, and they are hereby: tendered to Commander John L. Worden for highly distinguished conduct in conflict with the enemy in the remarkable battle between the United States ironclad steamer Monitor under his command, and the rebel ironclad frigate Merrimack, in March, eighteen hundred and sixty-two.

Approved, February 3, 1863.

Letter from the crew of the U. S. S. Monitor to Captain Worden, U. S. Navy, expressing their sympathy and affection.

HAMPTON ROADS April 24th 1862 U. S. Monitor

To our Dear and Honered CAPTAIN

DEAR SIR These few lines is from your own Crew of the Monitor with there Kindest Love to you there Honered Captain Hoping to God that they will have the pleasure of Welcoming you Back to us again Soon for we are all Ready able and willing to meet Death or any thing else only gives us Back our own Captain again Dear Captain we have got your Pilot house fixed and all Ready for you when you get well again and we all Sincerely hope that soon we will have the pleasure of welcoming you Back to it again (for since you left us we have had no pleasure on Board of the Monitor we once was happy on Board of our little Monitor But since we Lost you we have Lost our all that was Dear to us Still) we are Waiting very Patiently to engage our Antagonist if we could only get a chance to do so the last time she came out we all thought we would have the Pleasure of Sinking her But we all got Disapointed for we did not fire one Shot and the [Norfolk papers Says we are Coward in the Monitor and all we want is a chance to Shew them where it lies with you for our Captain we can teach them who is cowards But there is a great Deal that we would like to write to you But we think you will soon be with us again yourself But we all join in with our Kindest Love to you hoping that God will Restore you to us again and hopping that your Sufferings is at an end now and we are all so glad to hear that your eye Sight will be Spaired to you again, we would wish to write more to you if we have your Permission to do so But at Present we all conclude By tendering to you our Kindest Love and affection to our Dear and Honered Captain.

We Remain untill Death your Affectionate Crew



This letter was addressed to me, on the envelope which covered it, at Washington, D.C., and was received two or three days after its date.


Letter from Lieutenant Morris, U. S. Navy, to Lieutenant Murray, U. S. Navy, recommending for promotion Acting Master Kennison.

Brooklyn Navy Yard, May 1, 1862.

DEAR FRANK: Your letter reached me safely. You asked me to report in writing the conversation we had concerning Mr. Kennison during the late action of the Cumberland. I do not remember the words, but the substance was that I considered him one of the most promising masters I knew, and recommended on that account, as well as for his marked bravery during the action, he should be promoted by the Department. He had charge of the forward pivot gun. I was near him when the Merrimack ran into us. He contrived to fire his gun coolly and calmly. Perfectly unmoved, he continued to fire his gun until she sank.

Yours, truly,


Lieutenant FRANK K. MURRAY, U. S. Navy.

Report of Lieutenant Morris, U. S. Navy, regarding this recommendation of Acting Master Kennison, U.S. Navy.

Off City Point, May 24, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 19th instant, in which you ask: "Will you please state distinctly whether Mr. Randall and Mr. Kennison stand on an equal footing, or whether it is still your opinion that Mr. Kennison is preeminently distinguished?"

By referring to my official report of the action between the Cumberland and Merrimack, you will perceive I stated that Mr. Kennison and Mr. Randall were equally distinguished for coolness and bravery. I will inform the Department that I did not mention Mr. Kennison as having been preeminently distinguished in that action, but as being preeminently qualified for the position of acting volunteer lieutenancy, on account of his having evinced during the period he was on board the Cumberland a strong desire to perfect himself in all duties appertaining to his new profession, in which he was eminently successful.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Lieutenant, U. S. Navy.

Secretary of the Navy.


Report of the commander of the Gassendi of the naval engagement which took place in Hampton Roads, between the Federal forces and those of the Confederates.

First fight, March 8.

On the morning of the 8th, light breeze from the N. N. W., very fine weather, slight ebb tide. About 12:40 a mass, having the appearance of a barracks roof, surmounted by a large funnel, appeared at the entrance of Elizabeth River, a little inside of Sewell's Point. Every one recognized the Merrimack immediately, which, accompanied by two gunboats, the Beaufort and the Raleigh, advanced slowly toward the channel of Hampton Roads. After several evolutions, executed doubtless to assure herself of the good working of her machinery, the Merrimack seemed for an instant to turn back toward Norfolk; but in a short time after, she boldly started again on her course at an apparent speed of 6 knots, standing for the Federal sailing frigates Cumberland and Congress, anchored at the entrance of James River. The two gunboats remained at the entrance of the Elizabeth River to watch the movements of the Federal vessels anchored off Fortress Monroe.

The Federal naval force at the anchorage consisted of the screw frigate Minnesota for more than a month cleared for action, with steam up; of the screw frigate Roanoke, also cleared for action, but which an inexplicable negligence had allowed to remain for four months with her main shaft broken, and which tried to deceive the enemy by a useless blowing off of steam; of the sailing frigate St. Lawrence, which had arrived the day before to replace the Cumberland at Newport News, and which had anchored at quite a distance outside; of two three-masted ships, each armed with six cannon. There were besides four gunboats, paddle wheel or screw; a half dozen tugboats (each carrying a 30-pounder Parrott), and an equal number of ferryboats.

Not one of these vessels appeared to notice the arrival of their formidable enemy in the roads, and it was more than a quarter of an hour after her appearance that a shot fired by one of the gunboats announced that she was in sight.

At about 1:30 the Minnesota hoisted her jib and started at moderate speed, aided by a tugboat towing by the starboard side. The Roanoke, towed by two tugboats, followed her more slowly still. Having arrived near the Rip Raps the Minnesota stopped and ran out lines as though to take the Roanoke in tow; but she soon appeared to relinquish that, and about 2 o'clock she at length started at a speed of 7 or 8 knots, standing toward Newport News, where the engagement took place. Her tugboat (the Dragon) then went to the aid of the Roanoke, which continued to advance slowly, her three tugs being unable, without great difficulty, to make her stem the current. The paddle-wheel gunboat Whitehall and the screw gunboat Mystic bore off toward Newport News also, but they took a very minor part in the fight.

As these vessels would come abreast of the Sewell Point battery, that battery opened fire upon them. They replied to it, but this fire at long range (about 2,500 meters), to which was added that of the Rip Raps, could but produce an insignificant effect.

About 2:30 the Minnesota ran aground on the shoals north of Hampton Middle Ground, a mile from Newport News. The Southern batteries and gunboats fired upon her at long range. The Roanoke, fearing doubtless to take the ground also, which her want of speed rendered imminent, then changed her course, and, spreading her sails, came back to the anchorage off the fortress, where she arrived about 4 o'clock. The tugs went to the aid of the Minnesota. The Mystic came back to the anchorage also about the same hour, and the frigate St. Lawrence, which up to that time had steadily proceeded toward the scene of the engagement, imitated likewise the maneuver of the Roanoke and Mystic.

The Merrimack, however, had continued to direct her course toward the frigates which she wished to destroy. The two gunboats had rejoined her, and at 2 o'clock she was at the entrance of James River.

She was immediately greeted by a violent cannonade from the two frigates and from the batteries of Newport News. The Confederate battery at Pig Point replied. The fight was then hidden from us in a great measure by the point, which allowed us to see only the masts of the frigates; but we were able to estimate the force of the fire, which, during a quarter of an hour, particularly, was of the hottest.

We could see the entrance of the river constantly swept in all directions by the shot that ricochetted, and the strength of the detonations indicated to us that they were guns of the heaviest caliber which were testing the armor of the Merrimack.

This vessel, after having delivered a broadside at the Congress, the nearest of the two frigates, advanced toward the Cumberland, whose formidable battery might well be dreaded, and struck her amidships at a speed of 4 to 5 knots, partially breaking her ram. After drawing off two ship's lengths, and having delivered a second broadside at the Congress, the Merrimack a second time rammed the Cumberland, which sank almost immediately. It was then about 2:30. It would seem that this second blow was unnecessary.

The two steamers Yorktown and Jamestown, which, having descended James River, awaited a little higher up the moment of attack, after having opened fire upon the Congress in passing, appeared in Hampton Roads and engaged in a very sharp fight with the two Federal gunboats and the stranded Minnesota.

The Merrimack reappeared also outside the point, fired alternately at the Congress and at the batteries of Newport News, while the Southern gunboats did likewise. Toward 3 o'clock that frigate hoisted her jib, sheeted home her topsails, ran forward a ship's length and grounded immediately on the sand banks south of the entrance of the river. Almost at the same instant she struck her colors, which she replaced by a white flag, and a little later she hoisted another at the mainmast. It was at this time that the following incident occurred of which the Southern papers complained:

So soon as the white flag had announced to the Confederates the surrender of the frigate, they ceased firing and one of their gunboats, the Raleigh, approached her and ran alongside of her on the starboard side to take off the officers and to tell the crew to go ashore in their boats; but at the moment that the gunboat in good faith came alongside the frigate, guns fired by the Federals hid in the edge of the woods, and some also from the Congress, killed and wounded many officers and sailors of the Raleigh. Some men even on the Congress were struck by the balls coming from the land. This incident, of which the Confederates have bitterly complained, has been copied by the majority of the Northern newspapers; not one has contradicted it. One of them (the New York Herald, of the 14th) has, on the contrary, confirmed it.

The Merrimack continued to fire at the batteries of Newport News up to the moment that the Raleigh drew off from the Congress (about 4 o'clock). All of them then drew near to the Minnesota, which, still aground and slightly inclined to starboard and surrounded by three or four gunboats, exchanged shots at long range with the Yorktown and Jamestown.

The Roanoke was already en route for the anchorage. The St. Lawrence, which arrived on the scene of action, took part but for a short time, and everything looked as though the resistance of the Minnesota could not be prolonged. However, the shoalhess of the water did not permit the Merrimack to draw near to the frigate, and the other vessels were of too slight a build to expose themselves near her powerful battery. The combatants appeared, besides, exhausted by the emotions and fatigue of a continued struggle of more than three hours. Perhaps the Confederates, almost sure of taking the frigate on the morrow, did not wish to damage the hull nor the machinery too much. However it may be, the fire slackened a great deal. About 6 o'clock it had entirely ceased, and the vessels disappeared little by little in the fog which obscured the horizon. At 7:30 the Congress was on fire, and blew up at midnight with a tremendous report. The Confederates had succeeded, besides, in cutting out in James River and taking to Norfolk the water tank Reindeer, which alone supplied the fort and vessels with water.

Everything seemed desperate on the evening of the 8th, and a general panic appeared to take possession of everyone. The terrible engine of war, so often announced, had at length appeared, and in an hour at most had destroyed two of the strongest ships of the Union, silenced two powerful land batteries, and seen the rest of the naval force, which the day before blockaded the two rivers, retreat before her. Several vessels changed their anchorage, and all held themselves in readiness to stand out to sea at the first movement of the enemy. Everything was in confusion at Fort Monroe; ferryboats, gunboats, and tugboats were coming and going in all directions; drums and bugles beat and sounded with unusual spirit. Fort Monroe and the battery of the Rip Raps exchanged night signals without intermission. In spite of the assistance of half a dozen steamers, the Minnesota could not succeed in getting afloat again, and I learned even that a council of war, held on this subject, entertained for a moment the thought of burning her. Already seven or eight guns had been thrown overboard and some others spiked, when, about 8:40, the Monitor (Ericsson battery) arrived, which was to save the Minnesota and the rest of the vessels at the anchorage. The sending of this new auxiliary restored the shaken confidence She immediately directed her course toward the place where the frigate was stranded and anchored beside her.

The Confederate vessels had taken their position under Sewell's Point, and the night passed without incident, each one awaiting with impatience the results of the trial of the morrow.

The fight of the 9th.

On the morning of the 9th, slight breeze from the east, very fine weather, light fog.

At daylight, at the entrance of the Elizabeth River, the Confederate vessels were seen under steam, the Minnesota still immovable, and to the left of her, scarcely visible, a small black mass, surmounted by a curl of smoke.

At 8 o'clock the fog completely dispersed. The Merrimack, preceded by the Jamestown and Yorktown, stood for the Federal frigate. The lighter vessels commenced the attack, but the little black mass had put itself in motion and soon a cloud of smoke and the noise of two loud reports apprised the gunboats with whom they had to deal. They were then seen to abandon the attack and retire under the batteries of Sewell's [Point], leaving the Merrimack to defend alone the honor of their young flag.

The Minnesota, occupied in efforts to get herself afloat, only took part in the fight at long intervals, and the action resolved itself into a veritable duel between the two batteries.

They engaged in the fight at first at long range, but the two enemies were not slow in coming together, each one striving to find the weak spot in the armor of her adversary. In this contest, of naval tactics entirely, in a narrow channel of little depth, the Monitor, whose draft is not half that of the Merrimack, had an enormous advantage over the latter. Sure of her working, she could run at full speed, approach or retire, as she judged best, without fear of running aground. The Confederate battery, on the contrary, could not move nor perform any evolutions except, with the greatest precaution, in spite of the evident skill of her pilot.

At the commencement of the action she grounded and remained immovable for a quarter of an hour. However, the fight continued with an equal ardor. Several times in their evolutions the two adversaries fired upon each other at a distance of a few meters, and in spite of their powerful batteries the projectiles bounded off perfectly harmless, apparently. Once the Merrimack ran into the Monitor, but whether her ram had been completely broken the day before, or whether it was placed too high, she struck her enemy at the water line anti produced only a slight depression on the powerful armor plating which protected that part. Shortly after, the flagstaff of the Merrimack was shot away by a ball, and the tops in the roads, as well as the ramparts of the fortress, saluted this accident with frantic hurrahs as a victory. But soon a sailor appeared on the gratings, showing at the end of a staff' the flag which had for an instant disappeared.

Two or three times the Ericsson battery drew near to the Minnesota and stopped firing to cool her guns. The frigate then fired a broadside at the Merrimack, which replied with energy, and one of her balls struck the boiler of the tugboat Dragon, which, moored alongside of the stranded vessel, held herself in readiness to take her in tow. The boiler exploded, causing the Dragon to sink, scalding and wounding several men.

At length, about 12:30, after four hours of fighting, the Merrimack started for Sewell's Point.

The Monitor came up to the Minnesota and a little while after all the Confederate flotilla returned to Norfolk.

During the following night the stranded frigate was gotten afloat, and at 2 a.m. of the 10th one of the gunboats which had taken part in the fight, the Whitehall, took fire and blew up at two cable lengths from the Gassendi.

At daylight the Minnesota and the Monitor anchored in the roads. The Merrimack appeared to me to have received fifty or sixty shot. The funnel was literally riddled, and the flagstaff shot away. None of the shot had made a very serious impression. The first iron plate of the armor, sometimes the second, was broken, but nowhere was the armor penetrated. Owing to the slope of the sides, even when the iron would break under the blow, there was no internal bending of the entire structure, as nearly always happened to the Ericsson battery. The unbroken plate remained almost intact. However, from the concussion caused by two shots, one at the edge, the other below the water line, a piece of wood flew off inside, but the vessel did not make water in either case. The sloping arrangement of the separate and not very wide plates, fastened on the inside by nut bolts, allowed the Merrimack to be promptly repaired.

During the morning of the 9th a ball from the Monitor parted her [Merrimack's] chain a little below the hawse hole, the anchor dropped and the chain, violently driven inward, seriously wounded a man. A gun was broken at the muzzle. They, nevertheless, continued to fire it without other accident.

It is asserted that at the time of the ramming of the Cumberland a part of her crew leaped on the roofing of the Merrimack, but they slid off the incline plane and the greater part were drowned. It is doubtless to this incident that the disappearance of 200 men from that ship is due.

The Monitor was hit by twenty-three projectiles. Some shells were thrown by the Minnesota at the Merrimack, and they produced no more effect than a blow of a hammer. The balls from the Merrimack, especially those fired almost muzzle to muzzle, produced some results. Three cylindro-conical balls fired from the rifled guns made an indentation nearly 4 inches deep on the armor plating. Two of them made an equally deep indentation on the inside of the turret, and a man leaning against the inside walls at the place receiving the blow was thrown forward and wounded. A third projectile struck one of the iron plates of the pilot house and made such a depression that iron splinters were violently thrown off and blinded the captain, who at that moment was leaning his head against the plate. The other shots which reached the Monitor, and were for the most part round, did not appear to me to have produced a very great effect, those especially which struck the sides perpendicularly. Two, however, struck the side at the edge of the deck, lifting and tearing it, causing the iron plates to give way, and breaking three of them. The others only produced insignificant effects.

Order of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy to Flag-Officer Goldsborough, U. S. Navy, to return to Hampton Roads.

Fort Monroe, Va., March 8 [9], 1862.

MY DEAR COMMODORE: I request you will turn over the command of the naval part of your expedition to Rowan, and return at once to Hampton Roads. General Wool suggests that you bring back one or two of your best steamers.

In this you must use your judgment. The Ericsson [Monitor] is here doing good work.

Yours, in haste,

G. V. FOX,
Assistant Secretary.

Flag-Officer L. M. GOLDSBOROUGH.

Report of Captain Marston, U. S. Navy, acknowledging order regarding the removal of United States vessels from Hampton Roads, Virginia.

Hampton Roads, March 9, 1862.

SIR: I have this moment received your letter relative to removal of the Brandywine and other vessels from the harbor, and shall endeavor to carry out your views as speedily as possible.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Captain and Senior Officer.

Hon. G. V. FOX,
Assistant Secretary of the Navy.


March 9, 1862--12:45 m. [sic].

Let the Leslie go to Wyman and direct him to send his fastest vessel to the mouth of the Potomac to watch the approach of the enemy, Merrimack or any other steamer. If any comes in sight, proceed up at once and give information by telegraph.


Lieutenant PARKER.


WASHINGTON, March 9, 1862--11 a.m.

Merrimack sunk the Cumberland; the Congress surrendered. Minnesota and St. Lawrence ran aground approaching scene of contest. At 8:30 last night Merrimack had retired to Craney Island. Please be fully on alert. See that Fort Carroll is placed in a condition for defense as rapidly as possible in case Merrimack should run by Fort Monroe. Until further orders stop passage of army transports passing from Philadelphia to Annapolis and Perryville by canal. What is condition of Fort Carroll?

Major-General, U. S. Army.

Major-General J. A. DIX,
Baltimore, Md.


WASHINGTON, March 9, 1862-1 p.m.

If the rebels obtain full command of the water, it would seem impossible for you to hold Newport News. You are therefore authorized to evacuate that place, drawing the garrison in upon Fort Monroe, which, I need not say to so brave an officer, is to be held at all hazards, as I will risk everything to sustain you should you be attacked by superior forces. From indications here, I suspect an intention of the enemy to fall back nearer to Richmond, that they may better concentrate their forces. An attack on you is not improbable. If the 15-inch gun is at Newport News, I would suggest its immediate removal to either Fort Monroe or Fort Calhoun, unless it will enable you to retain possession of Newport News. By authorizing you to withdraw from Newport News I do not mean to give you the order to do so, but to relieve you from grave sense of responsibility, which every good officer feels in such a case. I would only evacuate Newport News when it became clear that the rebels would certainly obtain complete control of the water and render it untenable. Do not run the risk of placing its garrison under the necessity for surrendering. You will also please inform me fully of your views and wishes, the practicability and necessity of reenforcing you. The performances of the Merrimack place a new aspect upon everything. I may very probably change my whole plan of campaign just on the eve of execution.


Major-General JOHN E. WOOL.


MARCH 9, [1862]--2 p.m.

Please have the following communicated to Captain Wyman as soon as possible:

The Merrimack has got out of harbor and had pretty much used up our ships at Hampton Roads.

It is impossible to say what she may attempt, but as a proper precaution it is proposed to be ready to block the channel of this river in the event of an attempt to enter it. By direction of the President, it has been agreed on by General McClellan, General Meigs, and myself--the Secretary of War present--to fill some canal boats and other craft and tow them down near the place where it would he advisable to sink them. I wish yon therefore to send up some of the steamers to tow down.

You have no doubt received my dispatch to send a fast vessel to observe the mouth of the Potomac; let this duty be well looked to.

Will General Hooker please to inform me of this reaching Captain Wyman

Commandant Navy Yard.

Brigadier-General HOOKER,


BUDD'S FERRY, [MD.], March 9, 1862--9:15 p.m.

I was absent when your telegram for Captain Wyman reached this office; it was, however, duly communicated.

Captain Wyman is of the opinion that the Merrimack can not ascend the Potomac.




NAVY YARD, March 9, 1862--3 p.m.

I beg leave to inform you that upon consultation with such pilots as I have in the yard, I find them to be of opinion that a vessel drawing 22 feet water can pass up the Potomac within a hundred yards of the arsenal.

As far as the light-house on Blakiston Island, some 30 miles, there is abundant water for any ship.

About 5 miles higher up is the first obstacle--the Kettle Bottoms. The channel passes among these shoals for 5 miles and the pilot says 24 feet can be had, which I doubt; the narrowest part about 300 yards wide.

From this the channel continues good until just below Aquia, where it shoals so that 23 feet is considered the best water at common high tide.

Having passed this the water deepens, passing the batteries and shoals about Mattawoman Creek, where the depth at common high tide is 22 feet. This obstruction is less than a mile in extent, after which the channel deepens several feet; though its narrows, it runs deep very nearly to the arsenal and perhaps some 3 miles from the capital.

The actual blocking of the river is only to be resorted to when the exigency arises, the means being at hand.

There are three points where it can be done--the Kettle Bottoms, below Smith's Point, and at Mattawoman.

I would advise that some heavy ordnance be got ready for placing at the arsenal, at Giesboro Point, and at Buzzard Point. Fort Washington should also have suitable cannon. I have telegraphed to the flotilla for some steamers to tow down the blocking vessels as soon as General Meigs has them ready. It happens, unfortunately, that the only two good steamers belonging to the yard are at Fortress Monroe.




MARCH 9--3:30 p.m.

Two of the large yard steamers are at Fort Monroe; one of them is not yet repaired, so that I have but one little tug.

I would suggest authority to charter or hire one or two of the best steamers in the river, if necessary, without consent of the owner.


Secretary of the Navy.


MARCH 9, [1862]--3:40 p.m.

I am making arrangements to place an 11-inch gun and some 10-inch mortars on Giesboro Point, which will command at short range the nearest point that a vessel drawing 22 feet can approach the capital; the channel passes within 50 yards of this position. As I have but a handful of men, it might be convenient to have some assistance from the neighboring regiments. If so, please authorize it.


General McCLELLAN,


WAR DEPARTMENT, March 9, 1862--5:30 p.m.

The steamer Sophia will leave G street wharf in ten minutes, having in tow eight canal boats loaded with sufficient stone to sink them. Another steamer, with eight more, will leave in the course of the night. The captain of the Sophia bears a letter to the officer in command of the flotilla, stating "that the boats are to be sunk if necessary." This telegram is sent for your information.

By order of General Meigs, Quartermaster-General:

Quartermaster and Colonel.



Fort Monroe, Va., March 9, 1862.

I want for immediate defense, to be sent as soon as possible. 2,000 regular infantry and 8,000 volunteer infantry; five batteries of light artillery, regulars it' possible; 1,100 horses to furnish the five batteries, to complete the batteries I have here, and for the unmounted cavalry.

The rebels are threatening Newport News. Scouts report they have appeared in large force within 5 miles of that port. With this force I can evacuate Newport News by land if necessary. You can probably best determine, from a knowledge of the enemy's movements near you, what additional force I may require. I want three quartermasters, the chief of whom should be a superior man, and four brigadier-generals, with an efficient staff. For the performance of the Merrimack, I refer you to Mr. Fox's telegram annexed.


Commander in Chief Washington.


WASHINGTON, March 9, 1862.

General Dix has been ordered to send you 4,000 men as rapidly as possible. Do you want any more reenforcements for defensive purposes?

Chief of Staff.

Major-General JOHN E. WOOL.


MARCH 9, [1862]--9 p.m.

The proposed measures for guarding the Potomac are in progress. I am informed from the Quartermaster's Department that eight canal boats loaded with stone were about to leave, and eight more would leave during the night. I have sent instructions to the commandant of flotilla as to their disposition and use at the three places where the channel has least depth of water.

The only 11-inch gun and 50-pounder which I have will be landed on Giesboro Point before midnight. The platforms will be laid and the guns in position to-morrow morning. The mortars will also be placed. Shot are being cast for all of them and a full supply will be ready to-morrow.

The Secretary of War has visited the defensive points and given me authority to draw on any of the regiments or forts for men, guns, or munitions. He has also authorized me to take for the while the private steamers plying on the river for present use of the Government, and I have sent round for them.

If there should be any use at all for a battery on Giesboro, there ought to be 20 of the heaviest cannon. Shot of 170 pounds at 50 or 100 yards will be apt to do something.

A smart steamer has been dispatched to the mouth of the Potomac to observe it.


His Excellency the PRESIDENT.

Telegraph also to Secretary of Navy.


FORT MONROE, VA., March 9, 1862--10:45 p.m.

Your telegram to Major-General Wool received. The performance of the Monitor to-day against the Merrimack shows a slight superiority in favor of the Monitor, as the Merrimack was forced to retreat to Norfolk after a four hours' engagement, at times the vessels touching each other. The damage to the Merrimack can not be ascertained. She retreated under steam without assistance. The Monitor is all ready for her tomorrow, but I think the Merrimack may be obliged to lay up for a few days. She is an ugly customer, and it is too good luck to believe we are yet clear of her. Our hopes are upon the Monitor, and this day's work shows that the Merrimack must attend to her alone. Have ordered the large frigates to leave.

G. V. FOX,
Assistant Secretary.

Major General McCLELLAN,
Washington, D. C.


NAVY DEPARTMENT, March 9, 1862.

If the Oneida can go to sea, send her to Hampton Roads instantly. Send any vessels you have. Don't delay a moment.


Commanding Navy Yard, New York.


NEWPORT NEWS, March 9, 1862.

I have just completed my arrangements for battle in the morning. The enemy is 1 miles on the river road beyond my brick-house pickets. A large body of cavalry, some infantry, and artillery are as above posted, yet they may simply be there to reconnoiter and wait the result of the Merrimack's operations. The Merrimack and other steamers have gone to Norfolk, and we hold the waters. We want hard bread, flour, whisky, and spades, shovels, and picks. Let them all come by boat. It is well to send infantry to Newmarket Bridge--this obliges him to fight us in front.

Brigadier- General.

Major-General WOOL.


NEWPORT NEWS, March 9, 1862.

Can you tell me anything about the Minnesota ?


Captain WHIPPLE.


Minnesota is afloat and coming down.


Order of Quartermaster-General Meigs, U. S. Army, to Colonel Ingalls, U. S. Army, regarding the method of attacking the Merrimack should she appear off Annapolis, Md.

Washington, March 9, 1862.

Should the Merrimack, which did so much damage at Newport News, attempt anything at Annapolis, it is believed that the best defense would be an attack by a number of swift steamers, full of men, who should board her by a sudden rush, fire down through her hatches or grated deck, and throw cartridges, grenades, or shells down her smoke pipes; sacrifice the steamers in order to take the Merrimack.

If an overwhelming force can be thus thrown on board, there will be little loss of life, though the steam transports may be destroyed. Of course the steamers should be provided with ladders, planks, grapplers, and other means to board with. The Merrimack has iron sides sloping above water to a deck about 9 feet wide; said to be an iron-grated deck. Promotion, ample reward, awaits whoever takes or destroys her. By order of the Secretary of War:


Colonel INGALLS,
Quartermaster, Annapolis.

You, of course, have a swift steamer outside on the lookout.

Letter from the Secretary of War to the governors of New York, Massachusetts, and Maine regarding preparations for defense of the ports of those States against attack by the Merrimack.

Washington, March 9, 1862.

The opinion of the naval commanders here is that the Merrimack will not venture to sea, but they advise that immediate preparations be made to guard against the danger to our ports by large timber rafts, protected by batteries. They regard timber rafts, guarded by batteries, as the best protection for temporary purposes.

General Totten says do not neglect the batteries.

Secretary of War.


Report of Acting Master Shankland, U. S. Navy, commanding U. S. S. Currituck, of arrival at Hampton Roads.

Hampton Roads, March 9, 1862.

SIR: I beg to inform you of the arrival of the Currituck at this anchorage. During the passage from New York, in company with the Sachem and Ericsson's floating battery [Monitor.], which vessel, we were ordered to convoy to Cape Henry, our machinery became disabled. I was obliged to come in to an anchorage to repair it. I shall be all ready for sea and will sail at 4 o'clock this afternoon, and proceed toward Port Royal as fast as possible.

I remain, respectfully, yours,

Acting Master, in Command.

Secretary of Navy.

Order of the senior officer, Hampton Roads, Virginia, to Acting Master Shankland, U. S. Navy, to proceed off Cape Henry.

Hampton Roads, March 9, 1862.

SIR: Your orders to proceed to Port Royal are temporarily suspended, and you will proceed off Cape Henry and prosecute the blockade vigorously and efficiently.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Captain and Senior Officer.

Acting Master W. F. SHANKLAND,
U. S. S. Currituck, Hampton Roads.


HEADQUARTERS ARMY POTOMAC, March 10, 1862--1 a.m.

You will suspend operations for the present for sinking boats or placing obstructions in the Potomac.




WAR DEPARTMENT, March 9, 1862.

The Merrimack, an armor-clad vessel belonging to the rebels, issued from Norfolk yesterday and captured several of the United States blockading vessels and threatens to sweep our whole flotilla from Chesapeake Bay. Under these circumstances it is of the last importance to capture or destroy the Merrimack, and the whole wealth and power of the United States will be at command for that purpose. As this movement was anticipated and the subject of discussion between you and myself last December, you have no doubt thought of various modes by which it could be met and overcome most promptly. The Secretary of War desires you quietly to call a meeting of from three to nine persons, at your discretion, of the best judgment in naval engineering and warfare, to meet immediately at your father's house or some other convenient and suitable place, and to sit as a committee to devise the best plan of speedily accomplishing the capture or destruction of the Merrimack. I would suggest the name of Abram S. Hewitt as a member of the committee. You will bear in mind that every hour's delay to destroy the Merrimack may result in incalculable damage to the United States, and that the plan or plans for her destruction should be submitted at the earliest hour practicable for the approval of this Department, to the end that their execution may not be unnecessarily delayed a moment. To enable you to communicate hourly with this Department, the telegraphic company is directed to transmit all messages from you at the expense of the Government.

Acknowledge this dispatch the moment you receive it. Spare no pains or expense to get the committee together immediately. Act with the utmost energy. You and each member of the committee will consider this whole matter confidential.

Assistant Secretary of War.

21 Fifth Avenue, corner Ninth street, New York.


OLD POINT COMFORT, March 10, 1862--9 a.m.

By the strenuous exertions of the officers and crew the Minnesota was got off at daylight and is anchored off the fort. The Whitehall, an old ferryboat, was accidentally burned last night. I asked you to send the small gunboats from Boston to this anchorage. I would also suggest that the Wachusett, Captain Missroon, be ordered here. The Dacotah was ordered to touch here, and I shall keep her. Will you hurry her by telegraph? This force will be sufficient in the absence of iron vessels. The Merrimack has not appeared, and I hope we shall get everything clear in the harbor, so that the combat, if again commenced, shall be between the iron vessels alone. The Sabine, ordered to this point a week since, Is not wanted. The Monitor is down receiving the cheers of the garrison and vessels. Whether I shall return to-night depends upon the condition of things. I wish to see the frigates off before I leave.

G. V. FOX,
Assistant Secretary.

Secretary of Navy, Washington, D. C

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